Pandemic stress causing students to attend class under the influence, counselors warn

NORFOLK, Mass. — As pandemic stress continues to affect families in Massachusetts, substance abuse counselors are now getting calls about students showing up under the influence to class.

“We have seen an increase in school systems asking for support for students because students are using before they come to school,” explained Jennifer Levine, executive director of S.A.F.E. Coalition in Norfolk.

According to Levine, the regional coalition has been flooded with calls within the past 2 weeks from both parents and school officials.

“Many youth were using substances during the Summer, and that created a style of addiction. And so it’s unrealistic for us to think that right when school starts, all these kiddos who are already struggling with anxiety and depression can stop automatically, either their vape or marijuana use,” she said.

Alcohol abuse in adults is also on the rise, according to Levine, who added that families have been seeking help for months.

“We are meeting with approximately 20 new families every week looking for services and support," Levine said.

At Holliston Youth and Family Services, Director Jaclyn Winer told Boston 25 News that they are also seeing more people reach out for help with substance abuse.

“We are definitely seeing an increase in the utilization of our services,” said Winer. “I would say they’re up 50 percent, if not more.”

Winer said that counselors are very concerned about addiction getting worse during a potential second wave of COVID-19, especially as the weather gets colder and people can’t socialize as much outside.

“It’s certainly a concern of many mental health providers at the moment,” she said. “Contact your medical provider, get your services in place, and have a plan if things were to go sour for you so that you can get the help that you need,” she said.

For more information about S.A.F.E. Coalition, click here.

For more information about Holliston Youth and Family Services, click here.

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