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‘Relapsing Left and Right’: Trying to Overcome Addiction in a Pandemic


Substance-abuse centers are shutting and relying on virtual programming, just as more and more people turn to drugs and alcohol.


The pandemic caused by the Covid19 virus has been a horrible nightmare for so many, especially those of us who are alcoholics and addicts, already suffering in silence, isolation, and experience being shunned from society. Regardless of what your drug of choice is, this pandemic is triggering our brother’s and sister’s into relapse.


In this article we hear the personal story of a New Jersey small business owner.  Jackie Re’ manages a 12-bed female substance-use disorder facility, she shares the impact of the pandemic on not only her business but the females she is trying to help. During the shutdown, within six months, 9 of the 12 woman that were living in her facility decided to leave during the peak of the rise of COVID-19 deaths, all but 1 relapsed. These women were asked to lose contact with a world they were trying to connect with again, Re’ stated, “The women already felt disconnected and didn’t want their sense of isolation exacerbated.” Addiction is known to be a disease of isolation, the pandemic has affected so many other addicts and alcoholics in the same fashion as Re’s woman, as well as substance-use programs across the nation.


The article provided statistics of just how adversely affected treatment facilities have become, the impacts are unsettling. A survey from the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers showed that out of 165 centers, 10 percent shutdown, 43 percent reduced in capacity, the others made the decision to leave on their own. New York facilities experienced the brunt of the closures due to the intensity of outbreaks they suffered. The solution moving forward is to administer the vaccine during the first phase of treatment.


For most centers, the solution to continue operating has been through virtual care, the choice was to move to a secure virtual portal or shutdown. This has been a challenging adjustment for everyone. A connection to others is a large part of what allows healing for a person that struggles with addiction and isolation. Virtual care does not provide that support and personal relationships necessary. Another concern for the staff, in their attempt to provide care, has been creating a link for those isolated in their homes that do not have internet or a strong connection on a platform that provides discretion to their privacy.


Anyone that struggles with addiction or feeling isolated through this time can relate with this article. There are personal experiences from those that suffered through this pandemic. There are also solutions and inspiring messages of how they made it through. During this past year, 2020 has recorded an all-time high number of deaths caused by overdoses according to the CDC. Psychology Today reported an increase in hospital emergencies calls and visits. Awareness creates an atmosphere for change, throughout the pandemic there have been obstacles, nevertheless, there is always a solution that… together we can overcome.


Read the full article here:  Emma Goldberg, Relapsing Left and Right’: Trying to Overcome Addiction in a Pandemic, Jan 4, 2021, The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/04/nyregion/addiction-treatment-coronavirus-new-york-new-jersey.html?smtyp=cur&smid=fb-nytimes&fbclid=IwAR09UMVEDmgmipH77jTEue5hLvB7QahOJbZT-2vVH0qz9vd9rjjZXnB3wVc