“My hobby is doom scrolling and learning the science of Covid and smoking weed and sitting on the toilet staring at the wall,” said Julie Kortekaas, 36, a mother of two children, ages 10 and 18, and a health-food restaurant owner in London, Ontario. “I just hide in my bathroom and vape,” she said, to deal with the stresses of a restaurant industry that’s unrelentingly bleak, customers who are anti-mask and a husband who works as a house painter and is concerned about virus risk in other people’s homes.
Ms. Kortekaas has increased her marijuana intake since the pandemic started (it is legal in Canada). “I smoke some weed and am able to calm down and clean my kitchen and do my laundry and do some regular person things,” she said.
Though there aren’t reliable statistics that break down parents’ use of alcohol, marijuana and anti-anxiety medications specifically, overall adult use of these substances has gone up since the pandemic began, said Dr. Nora D. Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
A nationally representative study of more than 1,500 Americans over 30 published in JAMA Network Open, showed that alcohol use is up among all adults in that age range, but in particular, among non-Hispanic white people, women and those between 30 and 59.
Many states where marijuana is legal have seen a big increase in sales since the virus began; for example, in Washington State, “cannabis revenue spiked at the height of the pandemic,” according to budget analysis from a local news radio station, KXLY. And some data from earlier in the pandemic showed that prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications were on the rise. Prescriptions for Klonopin and other similar drugs rose 10.2 percent in March 2020 from March 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing statistics from IQVIA, a health research firm .
Parents aren’t just using substances as a means of relief. For some, it’s also a ritual that helps them separate work from play when no one ever leaves the house. At 5 p.m. Bree Sanchez, 45, and her husband have a drink in their backyard.
“We need to shape this day a little, a transition to our next thing, which is laundry, dinner, cleaning stuff up,” said Ms. Sanchez, an art director and mother of two children, ages 9 and 11, in the Bay Area. Their daily cocktail is “a way to pause and talk to each other, and the kids will leave us alone.”
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