Substance abuse drastically increases as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Posted at 11:31 AM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 13:31:23-04

BOZEMAN — There have been a lot of effects from the COVID-19 pandemic -- some very positive, and some not so good.

“The stress levels, the intensity that the crisis, that type of situation, it’s already a dangerous situation to begin with but then when you add all these other things that people are dealing with, things are bad,” said Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin.

Since the pandemic started different agencies are seeing people struggle with substance abuse about twice as much as before

“Since mid-March, we’ve seen a 55% increase in people calling about substance abuse,” said Mandy St. Aubyn, with The Bozeman Help Center in Bozeman.

The Help Center serves 13 counties in southwest Montana and is seeing different issues with the abuse.

“People who have either struggled before and this maybe is making it worse or this a new way of coping or something they’ve always struggled with, so we see a variety of callers,” St. Aubyn added.

And for Gallatin County law enforcement, a lot of times substance abuse correlates directly with mental health.

“In many cases the same because whether people are unemployed, having family problems or any of those types of situations not only do they have depression or go into crisis but then they try to self medicate and that becomes a problem as well,” Sheriff Gootkin said.


One of the best solutions for people can just be seeking help.

“We can listen to whats going on for them and then make referrals to get them connected," said St. Aubyn. "It could be getting them connected to Alcohol and Drug Services here in Gallatin County, getting them connected to AA or whatever that looks like for them. So, there are resources out there. We just need to get them connected.”

This has been a very big change for so many different people, so if you need that extra help to cope with these changing times, please look at the different resources and healthy options available in your community.