The isolation and economic distress caused by the coronavirus pandemic are creating a ripple effect of mental health issues.
For individuals fighting addiction, the social isolation and additional stressors may lead to relapse.
“Almost all relapses occur when the person is unable to effectively cope with urges or cravings to use,” stated Townhall II Clinical Director Rob Young. “Experiencing stress, especially when it relates to money, work, children being at home, or health-related problems, can often result in very strong urges to use alcohol or drugs.”
Ohio’s Stay at Home orders have contributed to people feeling more isolated and alone. The lack of human contact combined with the fact that there is still a significant opiate problem in Portage County, unfortunately has resulted in people overdosing and in some cases, dying.
“One of the most effective ways for individuals with addiction to cope with stress is to reach out to their support system for encouragement and/or advice,” said Young.
Maintaining social connections with others who support the person’s recovery efforts is a pillar of recovery. “Fellowship”, as it is referred to in 12-Step programs, helps the person with addiction to obtain emotional support, gain insight on possible relapse issues, and to maintain motivation for continuing to not drink or use drugs.
However, because of social distancing, almost all 12-Step meetings have moved to chatrooms on the internet. “This has made it extremely difficult for many in recovery to keep those human connections where a simple hug, or a pat on the back, can make a huge difference with preventing relapse,” explained Young.
Mental Health & Recovery Board Executive Director John Garrity, PhD expressed his concern. “Early recovery can be often fragile. As relapse is often part of the recovery process, we are concerned about the additional stressors people are experiencing now,” he commented. “It’s very important people continue with their treatment and support.”
Townhall II has remained open and serving clients during the pandemic. Clients currently have the option to participate in counseling groups and/or individual counseling sessions through telehealth. “Our clients have adapted to telehealth quite well, and many are discovering they prefer it,” stated Young.
For people struggling with an opioid use disorder, Townhall II has an Opioid Recovery Clinic which provides medication-assisted treatment to help individuals decrease their cravings to use heroin and other substances through medications along with counseling. Any community member concerned about opioid overdose can make an appointment to receive a free Project DAWN Kit, which contains the overdose reversal drug Naloxone and resources.
Townhall II’s Helpline is available 24/7 and is an extremely valuable resource if you need any type of information, or if you are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, or are thinking about suicide. That number is 330-678-HELP (4357).
These are unquestionably difficult and trying times for everyone. For those with addiction, it is important to not isolate and to reach out to others who can provide you with support and motivation. For more information and appointments call Townhall II at 330-678-3006.
Photo Stefani Whitmire, Townhall II peer support specialist, displays a Project DAWN kit.
Portage County residents are eligible to receive a free kit by appointment.