As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, more and more Germans with alcohol and other substance use problems are seeking help from the nationwide addiction counselling centers.
However, these centers are under-funded threatening the sustainable provision of this much needed service.

The pandemic has increased addiction problems in the community. People are under heavy stress and anxiety due to various reasons including threats to jobs, pay cuts, and caring for young children or elders while working from home. Meanwhile many are also isolated due to physical distancing measures and have lost the usual routines and connections. This has led to people using more alcohol and other harmful substances in Germany.

As Movendi International reported previously, the Central Institute for Mental Health (ZI) in Mannheim in cooperation with the Nuremberg Clinic surveyed over 3000 adults on their alcohol consumption and found that 35.5% of survey respondents reported consuming more or much more alcohol than before the coronavirus crisis. Alcohol harm during COVID-19 was further aggravated in people with lower socio-economic status.

Welfare associations call for more sustainable funding for addiction help

The situation is worsened due to the under-funding of addiction counseling centers. The German Central Office for Addiction Issues (DHS) has emphasized that many of the 1,300 addiction counselling centers nationwide are not financially secure.

The additional cost of operating in the face of the COVID-19 crisis has further depleted funds of the centers threatening their sustainability. The centers have had to adapt, sometimes renting larger spaces and breaking down groups and also investing in digital equipment without refinancing.

The local addiction counseling centers are usually poorly equipped financially and consequently in terms of personnel and technology,” warned the German Central Office for Addiction Issues (DHS), as per Ärzteblatt 

The already precarious financing has become even more difficult due to the pandemic.”

German Central Office for Addiction Issues (DHS)

For instance, the Blue Cross has emphasized addiction counselling centers are needed and relevant to decrease alcohol problems and related costs. Yet, there is no reliable funding while the needs of those seeking help keeps growing.

People with alcohol and substance use problems needs a functioning system to support them. Specially because connection is key to recovery and this aspect is threatened due to physical distancing measures during the ongoing pandemic.

The problem is inherent in the system itself. Addiction counseling is financed as a voluntary service by municipal services of public interest. Funding is based on political decisions and often not on the need actually determined. In financially weak regions in particular, funding cuts are first made to voluntary services.

Public health advocates are calling to make addiction counseling and help a mandatory service of the municipalities. 

All people need free access to addiction counseling with comparable offers,” said Peter Neher, President of Caritas, as per Ärzteblatt.

Peter Neher, President, Caritas


Die Welt: “More alcoholics are seeking help in the pandemic

Ärzteblatt: “Welfare associations want reliable funding for addiction counseling