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Substance Abuse Tripled Amongst Israeli Youth During Coronavirus Crisis

Apr 16, 2021

While attending a gathering at the UN International Narcotics Control Board, the Elem and Enosh organizations revealed that substance abuse in the State of Israel rose significantly during the coronavirus pandemic. They explained that a larger population of the youth turned to drugs and alcohol amidst the coronavirus crisis and a rise in mental health issues was also noticed. 

Roi Humri, the head of the Elem’s street work, stated that Israeli youth was using thrice the amount of alcohol and drugs than they usually do. He added that a fourfold rise in reports of anxiety and depression was also noticed. There was also a significant increase in the number of cases of eating disorders, self-harm, and loneliness while the lockdowns ensued. 

Elem also observed that the association had increased its number of youth projects by 30%, and witnessed an increase of 41% in reported cases of online distress. Despite the lockdowns imposed across the country, the organization was helping more men and women during nighttime on the streets than it usually does. 

Volunteers and employees of the organization had a meeting with teenagers dealing with issues of anxiety, depression self-harm, and eating disorders. Soon after, the President of the Elem, Nava Barak, released a statement asserting that more and more young individuals have sought drugs and alcohol as a way of relieving their distress and boredom. 

He went on to commend the efforts made by the people working for Elem, who have been working hard to ensure that at-risk youth is able to receive the help it needs. 

Silvia Berladski Baruch, the representative from Israel to the UN bodies located in Vienna, along with the director-general of Enosh, Dr. Hela Hadas, and Barak, delivered the opening remarks at the gathering. 

By deploying a network in youth centers, schools, and on the streets, the Elem is able to identify which individuals are likely to exhibit behavioral patterns akin to people who use alcohol and drugs. They are also able to pick out patterns that point towards the early development of emotional disorders. Social media platforms and mobile phones have been instrumental as well in helping the organization identity this segment of the population. 

This identification has made it easier for teams at Elem to find risky situations, even though social distancing regulations were being enforced in full and other challenges were present on account of the coronavirus crisis. 

Both Enosh and Elem are held in high esteem by the UN and therefore, serve as special advisors. This helps them provide insight into their experiences and give suggestions on relevant matters. Due to their standing, they have also been able to develop professional friendships with different organizations around the world that do the same work as them. 

At the gathering, data collected on mental health issues from Israel, as well as various countries around the world were presented. Participants had healthy discussions about these issues from a different point of view. 

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