In a 2019 survey of entertainment industry workers, over 40% of respondents said they had experienced alcohol or substance misuse. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the anxiety, fear, uncertainty, stress, and isolation experienced by so many in our industry significantly increased those numbers. Many of us saw ourselves or colleagues, friends, or family members turn to substances as a way to cope with the disruption in our lives. Many found recovery difficult to sustain.
Along with significantly increased usage comes increased overdoses. Deaths due to overdoses have spiked during the pandemic, primarily driven by opioids. Over 93.000 drug overdose deaths were reported in 2020 – the highest on record and nearly a 30% increase over 2019.
The Behind the Scenes Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Initiative announces the launch of a website to provide resources for industry professionals to answer questions about alcohol and substance use. It offers information about how to spot the signs of misuse in yourself or others and the potential long term effects. There is practical guidance on getting help for yourself as well as how you can respond if you are concerned about a co-worker or friend. It also addresses situations where you may be concerned about someone you report to or someone who reports to you. There are also links to a variety of resources.
If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, you don’t have to feel alone. Just as an industry we work collaboratively to create our magic, we are all in this fight together. There are many people standing by to help you personally or assist you in helping someone else. We must all work to combat the stigma of asking for help. This website is a first step because education is essential and knowledge gives you power. With alcohol and substance misuse as prevalent as they are, now more than ever we need to get the message out that help is readily available. Visit btshelp.org/substanceuse to learn more.