LETHBRIDGE, AB – It seems more of us are turning to alcohol and cannabis as we try to deal with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by the ongoing pandemic.

University of Lethbridge researcher Dr. Cheryl Currie says even people who have never struggled with PTSD before are starting to show signs.

She surveyed 900 adults last June and found participants were suffering from pandemic related nightmares, intrusive thoughts about COVID-19 and the feeling of being constantly on guard.

“In some ways, the pandemic has many people stuck in fight-or-flight mode due to a combination of fear, ongoing social and economic impacts, and unpredictability regarding when it will finally be over.” – Dr. Cheryl Currie

The study showed about a third of women and a quarter of men reported they were going out of their way to avoid thinking about COVID which is where increased substance use comes in.

Currie wonders if people will be able to return to pre-pandemic substance use levels once the COVID crisis ends, adding alcohol consumption in Canada is already higher than the global average and among the highest in developed countries.