Fears were expressed throughout 2020 that many were turning to alcohol to deal with the effects of COVID-19, and these have been confirmed with the reverberative effects of the pandemic causing ongoing concern and for service providers
For City Mission, who provide services for those misusing alcohol and other drugs, the impact is obvious.
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In Evandale, the 34 bed Missiondale facility provides residential rehabilitation services and on the North-West, Serenity House is a non-medical "sobering up" facility that offers counselling and referral to other agencies.
Both facilities are coordinated by operation manager Stephen Hill. Mr Hill said the pandemic had made an expected impact on referrals to the service. Ongoing, however, the psychosocial impacts of COVID continued to be felt into 2021.
"We have seen about a 10 per cent increase in referrals compared to the same time last year of people who are actively seeking help with their substance use," he said.
"We're also seeing a significantly higher number of people who are actually making inquiries but then aren't following through with any level of assessment."
In Devonport and Burnie, the Youth, Family and Community Connections organisation offers support services for alcohol and other drug misuse in the North-West.
Alcohol and other drug services team leader Damian Collins said the organisation had experienced an even larger "echo" effect from the initial severity of the pandemic.
"Anecdotally to about September there's been about a 30 per cent increase in referrals for the same time in a normal year and that pretty much has been steady through to today," he said.
"We offer services not just around alcohol but around any drugs and the referrals are right across. There's not one particular substance or age group - it's just a steady across the board increase."
Anglicare Tasmania chief executive Chris Jones said they had noticed the theme across the state. An initial 31 per cent bump in new referrals was seen by the organisation from March to May last year, but they could never have foreseen that bump would be continuing.
From June last year to the end of January this year, Anglicare saw a 33 per cent increase in new referrals to the service compared to the same period the year before.
While groups like Anglicare, YFCC and City Mission battled through 2020, both Mr Hill and Mr Collins said they expected the impact to carry some way into 2021.
They both said there had been new faces present for their services, or faces of those that had seemingly escaped the clutches of alcohol addiction finding their way back in the system.
"There's some people that irrespective of what was going on, they'd be facing some sort of a struggle ... but we're seeing faces we haven't seen and names we're not familiar with, and we're seeing people that we thought were doing okay because we hadn't seen them for a longer period of time," Mr Hill said.
Mr Hill said it was a positive that people were seeking the help of services, rather than battling addiction alone, but the ones most impacted overall by the effects of the pandemic were the people with the most shallow security net and the most disadvantaged - and that group had grown.
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"If people that have a balanced capacity, good family and reasonable health are struggling, the those that are on the fringe are going to be a group that particularly struggle," he said.
"But there's a growing group of people that just don't have the capacity ... they might not have the family support or the social contacts, or the knowledge to know what services are available, so for them it will just keep growing and become a bigger and bigger problem."
In terms of alcohol addiction, the pandemic has driven the wedge even further between advantaged and disadvantage, and many of those halfway in between lost the precarious safety net that once supported them.
Though doom and gloom pervades the discussion, Mr Hill said he had seen that people were overcoming alcohol addiction in what has been one of the most difficult times this century.
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"There's been some problems, and we're seeing an increase in demand and we're not quite sure what that is, but in the midst of it we are seeing some people get through," he said.
The complications relating to the pandemic, Mr Hill said, have actually helped instil a steely resolve in those who have recovered over the past year.
"In some cases COVID has actually forced people to face some of the things they've been putting off and it has created a space for breakthrough, change and positives," he said. "We've got remarkable people that got through a process complicated by COVID. In some ways that battle held them in good stead to get through the other times as well ... there's a real sense of achievement in that."
- Tasmania Alcohol and Drug Service 1300 139 641.
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