Economic recession and unemployment have cut deep into the American economy as well as the global economy. Even worse, there is a correlation between drug addiction, unemployment, and recession. So when people are out of a job or struggling to put food on a table in a time where inflation is at an all time high – it can trigger addiction.

In 2008, we got a taste of recession … the Great Recession lasted nearly 2 years in the United States and many experienced economic downfall. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession. Covid 19 struck the world and the result was the loss of 255 million jobs globally in 2020 according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). The complexity of this economic recession and the effects it will have are yet to be known as it continues on however, it has and continues to significantly impact addiction-prone behaviors. Financial stress, insecurity, anxiety, and depression due to financial issues can all lead to an increase of substance abuse. There is so much uncertainty when there is job loss, many feel helpless and look for coping mechanisms. People who experience job loss, can experience changes in their healthcare as well due to their insurance. This again affects addictions as a decrease to healthcare access is typical during economic downturn. The result is a slippery slope for those that already have addiction-prone behaviors not having proper support leading to a likelihood of relapse. Lastly, an economic recession can exacerbate the imbalance of those who are already experiencing social and economic issues like poverty, discrimination, and trauma.

The Covid 19 pandemic struck all cords of economic impact on addiction-prone behaviors and it struck them all at once. Within a day – our world shut down. We were asked to isolate, we were asked to stay home, we lost our jobs and a title way of addiction is left in its aftermath. The synthetic opioid, Fentanyl, has wreaked havoc throughout the world during the pandemic and for years to come. It is a major contributor to opioid-related overdoses and deaths and is highly addictive. Sadly, with all the loss there already was due to the pandemic, many lost their lives spiraling out of control into addiction. Now, opioid use disorder continues to take lives and as the economic recession springs forth more uncertainty, many seem hopeless. Streets are becoming filled with drug users on “tranq” or the “zombie drug,” which is a mixture of fentanyl and xylazine that produces rotting skin. Even worse, their mental state and ability to think clearly to even begin to access care is hindered. Many experiencing financial hardships may even turn to illicit opioids that are less costly and sometimes easier to obtain than prescription opioids like oxycodone.

Now more than ever, leaders, policymakers, and healthcare professionals need to prioritize evidence based treatment for addiction as we face the impacts of economic recession. The tide is turning for support services like Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), which uses medications aligned with therapies and counseling to tackle opioid use. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medications used in MAT, which are naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone and the research is showing these treatments to be beneficial for recovery strides. Beyond the remedies to treat addiction, there is a need for proactive prevention programs, especially during recessions. Many people need mental health help and they need to know when, how, and where they can access care to cope with anxiety, stress, and depression in the midst of an economic crisis.

Scottsdale Recovery and Detox Center® has been Arizona’s premier addiction center for over a decade and can offer support to our community as well as those nationwide. If you or a loved one need help, connect with our team by visiting or call 1-888-NODRUGS.



Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.