Isolation, social distancing hurts those recovering from substance abuse

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) –With Americans across the country forced into isolation because of the coronavirus pandemic, those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction can face difficult challenges.

Experts say that a sense of “community” is crucial for those on the road to recovery. Isolation and social distancing can be dangerous for recovery.

“Anytime you have a difficult set of circumstances and you’re anxious like we are with COVID-19, it does increase substance abuse,” said Brittany Cole, marketing and public relations director for Life Management Center of Northwest Florida.

And the demand for help is on the rise.

“We’re not being able to meet the demands of the community right now because of mental health, the need is so great,” Cole said.

Experts say isolation creates a void. “What they do if they want to fill that void, they think that drugs and alcohol will fill that void and they’ll return to that,” said Xuripha Ancrum, the outpatient program director for the Chemicals Addiction Recovery Effort (CARE).

Many recovering addicts rely on in-person meetings and counseling organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Due to social distancing, many are losing access to the things their lives depend on.

“That can be very difficult. You can feel very alone if you’re not being able to sit next to someone and connect with someone, especially when you’re talking about something so personal as any type of addiction,” Cole said.

Both Ancrum and Cole recommend people take advantage of telehealth visits and technology.

“Social distancing doesn’t mean disconnect, so it’s really important that they stay connected,” Ancrum said.

Life Management says their 24-hour crisis line is available for those finding it difficult to deal with being isolated.

“It’s important that if you feel like you are going to relapse that you do talk to someone. If you don’t have a sponsor, then make sure you go and look for groups online,” Cole said.

CARE is also actively helping local individuals in recovery throughout the pandemic.

To learn more about CARE’s resources, visit http://care4000.com/

To learn more about Life Management, visit https://lmccares.org/

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