Risk of substance abuse on the rise due to pandemic

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — One of the most important parts of recovery for those fighting substance abuse and addictions are breaking out of boredom and isolation; however, with the pandemic keeping more people indoors, that has been a struggle for many over the past few months. On Friday, experts from Lubbock’s Stages of Recovery spoke to us about how the risk of addiction and substance abuse is on the rise in these challenging times.

“So anytime that I asked like so what are you know, what are your triggers, and they’ll say isolation and boredom,” said Stages of Recovery Program Director Melissa Silva. “Now we’re asking them, you know, not to go out into the public because of COVID. And so they’re going back into that isolation. And that boredom stage, which then increases the anxiety, which then increases depression if they were diagnosed for that. And a lot of them use substances in order to feel better.”

Although everyone struggles with addiction in different ways, finding a source of community is a crucial component of the recovery process.

“There’s a sense of feeling alone and feeling isolated. I remember a particular conversation I had with a client who stated one of the things that keeps them passionate about the recovery journey is community,” said Stages of Recovery Office Administrator Cari Renfro. “They have really felt at a loss and have noticed that their drive internally has diminished because they’re not. They haven’t been as immersed in the recovery community as before.”

Stages of Recovery is an outpatient facility that helps addicts along their recovering journey. They said that they have two group apartment complexes in Lubbock for men and women who use their services. Despite the virus, they have been able to continue meeting with clients in person, while following all state and federal guidelines, of course.

While they’ve still been able to meet in person, Stages of Recovery explained that many of their clients have expressed that they’ve been facing the same struggles.

“With like the assessments that we’ve gotten, you know, for a few weeks, COVID was actually always mentioned,” said Silva. She explained that some of them have mentioned something like this, “‘Well since COVID happened, like, it brought me anxiety and my depression and so I just I picked up again.'”

Some other current events, like the current state of unemployment, have also been stressors for clients, Stages of Recovery explained. However, they have made a strong effort to provide those clients with extra support.

“There are few stressors, like the stress of being able to pay your bills, whether you’re in recovery or not,” said Renfro. “So having a dedicated, safe place for the clients to come to and turn to, whether it’s their roommate, someone else in the community house manager, their individual clinician and talk about those concerns and having stages be recovery over revenue minded. They’re able to help bridge that gap and not let that be a trigger.”

Silva explained that as a recovering addict herself, the pandemic had created a cyclical struggle for those fighting substance abuse. Social isolation leads to boredom, and then boredom can lead to anxiety which can increase depression.

Silva said all of those lead to an increased risk of relapse and addiction – feelings she also personally understands.

“What was super frustrating is just not being able to be with the people that I love being surrounded by,” said Silva. “I’m a people person, you know, having to go back into isolation, you know, brought on the anxiety and those feelings again.”

In order to help provide support for those struggling, a quick phone call can go a long way and create the human interaction that recovering addicts need.

“If you do know someone who struggles with a substance use disorder, reach out to them, you know, check on them, see how they’re doing,” said Silva. “Sometimes they find it more difficult to pick up the phone and saying, like, how they’re feeling or what they’re experiencing.”

The organization said that there are several Alcoholics Anonymous and narcotics anonymous group meetings still happening virtually right now for those looking for a supportive community. If you find yourself struggling with overcoming addiction, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call for help or visit https://lubbockaddictionservices.com/about-stages-of-recovery/ to get more information.

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