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Recovery Centers Grapple with “Colliding” Public Health Crises

Group counseling is an important part of substance-abuse recovery. (Adobe Stock)
Group counseling is an important part of substance-abuse recovery. (Adobe Stock)

May 7, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The coronavirus has upended the community-based model that recovery centers use to help individuals battling addiction.

Research shows social isolation can lead to relapse. Add job loss, lack of child care and worry about contracting COVID-19, and it's a stressful mix for the estimated 22 million Americans in recovery.

Jim Bush, vice president for substance abuse services for New Vista treatment center, says the state has made exemptions so clients can take home more doses of medications such as methadone and buprenorphine than would normally be allowed. But he cautions that comes with inherent danger.

"There's a risk that if you have too many take-homes, you could take more than you need, so we've also been trying to equip our clients with Narcan," he points out.

Kentuckians struggling with a substance-use disorder, either themselves or within their families, can call 1-833-8KY-HELP to speak with a specialist about treatment options and resources.

Bush says the coronavirus is slowing down the process of accepting people into residential treatment, noting that substance-using individuals are especially vulnerable.

"We have folks that, from their substance use, have compromised health conditions," he points out. "So, trying to reduce the exposure, but also giving them the highest level of care."

Sticking to a daily routine and engaging in healthy activities such as prayer, meditation and exercise can help combat relapse.

Bush says support from friends and family, whether by Zoom or over the phone, is critical.

"Trying to just support folks in that idea of recovery, because it's very physically, emotionally and spiritually very challenging," he stresses.

Bush says since the start of the pandemic, many Kentuckians with substance-abuse disorders have been released from jails without any support or treatment options.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY