Pandemic Woes

Pandemic Woes: 1 in 5 Americans feel like their life lacks purpose following the coronavirus pandemic, reveals survey 

  • More than one in ten Americans admit they drink more when they feel their life lacks purpose.
  • Over half say the coronavirus pandemic has affected their personal and/or career plans.
  • More than one in ten also say the reason they drink has turned into a coping mechanism.
  • Infographic included.

After months of the coronavirus drastically affecting the lives of thousands of Americans, it’s easy to understand why mass traumas*, such as natural disasters, war – and global pandemics – can lead to a spike in psychological distress among entire populations. If you’ve found yourself facing feelings of loneliness, anxiety and fear due to financial difficulty, loss of a loved one or stress due to life adjustments, you are not alone. Following extended periods of social isolation, experts fear the US may be faced with a mental health epidemic within a global pandemic. A recent study** found an increase in adverse mental health conditions, substance use and suicidal thoughts among American adults in June this year. Worryingly, more than a quarter of respondents reported symptoms of a TSRD (Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorder)*** linked to the pandemic and more than one in 10 said that they had started or increased their substance use during this time., a treatment resource for addiction and co-occurring disorders, conducted a survey of 3,000 people across the country, which found that more than 1 in 5 (22%) Americans say they have been feeling like their life lacks purpose following the circumstances brought on by the coronavirus. Given the various pandemic-induced stressors some may be facing during this time such as job loss or death of a close relative or friend, these could be contributing to these feelings. Additionally, with some of us having to make major lifestyle adjustments, such as working from home and not being able to see loved ones due to social distancing regulations, it is understandable why many may feel directionless or lost.  

Broken down across the country, it was found that 67% of people in Louisiana feel this way as compared to 10% of those in Ohio.

View the rest of these results across the US in the following infographic:

State % that feel their life lacks purpose
Alabama 22
Alaska 25
Arizona 21
Arkansas 20
California 30
Colorado 20
Connecticut 17
Delaware 30
Florida 24
Georgia 17
Hawaii 33
Idaho 17
Illinois 24
Indiana 19
Iowa 27
Kansas 31
Kentucky 19
Louisiana 67
Maine 11
Maryland 25
Massachusetts 20
Michigan 26
Minnesota 24
Mississippi 24
Missouri 19
Montana 39
Nebraska 12
Nevada 16
New Hampshire 12
New Jersey 18
New Mexico 13
New York 18
North Carolina 15
North Dakota 17
Ohio 10
Oklahoma 24
Oregon 27
Pennsylvania 25
Rhode Island 29
South Carolina 17
South Dakota 13
Tennessee 23
Texas 18
Utah 13
Vermont 25
Virginia 21
Washington 39
West Virginia 25
Wisconsin 24
Wyoming 21

Google surveys, 3,000; October 2020.

Worryingly, more than 1 in 10 (11%) of people admit they tend to drink more when they feel their life is lacking in purpose. Whether you’re drawn to the sedative effects of alcohol or that it can make you forget things, most adults are familiar with the feeling of wanting to reach for a drink after a long, hard day. However, when these days tend to repeat themselves over a prolonged time, reaching for a drink at the end of each one could lead to a more serious issue. Alcohol abuse over a prolonged period can actually induce depression**** in drinkers and similarly, depression can induce alcohol abuse, potentially resulting in a cyclical dependence.

Given this, it’s concerning that over one in ten (12.5%) of respondents admit the reason they drink has changed from something fun into a coping mechanism. With many struggling to deal with the circumstances brought on by the pandemic in terms of death, finances, job loss or working from home, it can be easy to try and distract yourself from reality with a drink or two.  

Maybe you had a job promotion lined up or a big house move planned, or perhaps you were well on your way to beating your personal fitness goal at the gym. Thanks to the pandemic, your plans may now be disrupted, which can be discouraging and cause you to lose motivation in your goals. The survey found that over half (59%) of people say the circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic have negatively affected their personal and/or career plans.

‘In times of mass crisis, more people are likely to experience feelings of fear, anxiety, heightened stress and isolation,’ Says a spokesperson for ‘The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many people having to make major life adjustments, causing disruptions to their plans and goals; therefore, it is important to check in with your loved ones during these difficult times, especially those who may be more vulnerable to substance use.’