The COVID Impact

Personal Stories about the Impact COVID has had on the Recovery Community

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Charles versus COVID

The year 2020 brought a Covid-19 pandemic which was thrown on top of an existing Opioid epidemic.  For those of us in the recovery community this combination was particularly devastating.  With skyrocketing opiate abuse we were already living with a monster in our house.  Covid-19 dropped a new and different monster into our house.  Both different.  Both the same.  They worked together to further attack the recovery community and the results have been grim.  Covid-19 brought about or worsened existing depression, anxiety, isolation, and a myriad of other behavior health issues.  People on the edge of drug and alcohol abuse have crossed over to full on addiction and alcoholism.  There is often no way for an individual to cross back to recreational use once that line has been breached.  Those in early to midrange recovery were especially hard hit.  The number of overdoses and deaths have shattered records across the country.  Hospitalizations and detox events have risen dramatically.  The treatment world and recovery communities pivoted to help fill the gaps by relaunching treatment options and support group meetings in virtual formats.  However, now as we are easing back into in-person settings or hybrid programs, both medical and support group programs are overwhelmed with high demand.  In addition to existing patients returning to their treatment, we are also being inundated by new patients who are navigating behavioral health and substance use disorders for the first time in their lives—often they are in significant crisis as they have delayed treatment due to Covid.  Providers in behavioral health and substance use treatment programming, support groups, and the recovery community are bracing for what is still to come.  As the COVID-19 pandemic subsides we will need to meet an enormous challenge when many people emerge with new or exacerbated behavioral health and substance use disorder needs.

 

Mark Palazzari

Substance Use Liaison

Dewey Center/Aurora Psychiatric Hospital: Wauwatosa, WI

mark.palazzari@aah.org