COVID-19 is disrupting addiction and recovery, but communities are adapting

Prescription opiods are subject to abuse, just like alcohol and illegal drugs. (Photo source: K State Research and Extension)
Prescription opiods are subject to abuse, just like alcohol and illegal drugs. (Photo source: K State Research and Extension)

Americans who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or who are in recovery, are grappling with a new kind of struggle in the age of pandemic. One key question: Where to turn for fellowship and support when lockdowns and social isolation are the de facto law of the land? Another challenge for public health officials: A spike in substance abuse cases spurred by COVID-19.

Texas: Finding fellowship on video chats

In San Antonio, Texas, and surrounding Bexar County, some 300,000 people suffer from substance abuse, 30,000 on average are in recovery, and before COVID-19, they would go to any of 400 A.A. meetings per week.

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous have traditionally relied on regular, live meetings to reinforce the 12-Steps approach to recovery.

With gatherings banned, A.A. members have turned to online-video chats for support — but is virtual fellowship good enough?

“We have what some are calling the biggest relapse trigger of the century, with people sitting around their homes being bored, anxious or isolated,” one health official told the San Antonio Express News.

Source: The San Antonio Express News

Missouri: Hardship expected to drive more addiction

In Missouri, Mark Stringer, Director of the state’s Mental Health Department, expects to see a substantial uptick in addiction, as more and more people suffer extreme hardship from the economic and social conditions imposed by the pandemic.

He cites a 15 to 20 percent increase in calls to the Access Crisis Intervention Hotline as one example of worsening conditions.

At present, care providers are doing what they can remotely, via the telephone and online.

Missouri’s four Recovery Community Centers, where opiate addicts and those in recovery have in the past found abundant resources, are able to operate to a limited extent via video chat and other technologies.

Source: MissouriNet

Colorado: Addiction resources abound

Self-reliance in the West converges with the life-saving but challenging public health strategy of self-isolation.

Colorado has been proactive in continuing providing service remotely, through podcasts, websites, hotlines, video conferencing, and other approaches.

A Colorado Public Broadcasting podcast, “Back from Broken,” shares stories of recovery from addiction.

Several harm-reduction agencies across the state are still open for business, providing services such as needle exchanges tp prevent the spread of disease among addicts, as well as overdose prevention.

And one-on-one therapy is possible thanks to personal video conferencing and the telephone, enabling people working through recovery to talk to professionals, as well as their recovery sponsors.

Source: KOAA-FM

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