Impact Of Pandemic Lingers In Iowa With Spike In Cases Of Alcohol Misuse

Northwest Iowa — The pandemic may be over, but ripple effects from all the stresses COVID-19 caused are still being felt in Iowa. Dr. Raymond Garcia, chief medical officer at Rosecrance Behavioral Health in Sioux City, says their Iowa facilities saw a significant spike in alcohol-related cases in recent years. Garcia says many people used alcohol as a way to manage stress during the pandemic, but also to socialize with others, even if they could only meet up online through Zoom.

Garcia says Iowa is facing an epidemic-level crisis with opioids right now, but he emphasizes alcohol remains the number-one most misused product. Alcohol use was the most common substance use disorder treated at Rosecrance during the past year, accounting for 20 percent of all cases.

During the height of the pandemic, a study found there were about 488 deaths — per day — nationwide that were caused by excessive drinking. Garcia says the same study found the number of deaths linked to excessive alcohol use has surged by 29 percent in just five years. He says Rosecrance is seeing a boost in both residential treatment and outpatient services.

Experts from Rosecrance are holding a free community discussion on alcohol misuse tonight (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. at Spencer Hospital in Spencer.

Rosecrance facilities in Iowa serve more than 7,000 teens and adults every year at outpatient treatment clinics in Sioux City, Cherokee, Davenport, Le Mars, Spencer, and Sheldon. Click here for more information.