In an October 2020 Reading Eagle article, local experts voiced concerns about the impact of the pandemic on abuse and addiction. The article quoted COCA Executive Director Stan Papademetriou and Community Programs Specialist Yvonne Stroman, who both discussed the effect social distancing and isolation have had on people seeking treatment and recovery support. The article noted that drug and alcohol-related deaths are on the rise, compared to last year, with a total of 95 suspected cases. “That’s ahead of last year’s pace, when the county didn’t reach 95 cases until the end of October on the way to 126 for the year.”
Yvonne Stroman noted that forced isolation is particularly difficult for people suffering from substance use disorder.
Those who lose their jobs or who aren’t going out in public can struggle with excess free time and loneliness, and find it easier to hide their drug use and drinking, Stroman said.
At the same time, people in need of treatment may be reluctant to seek it.
“In April, May and June, requests to access treatment from COCA were down,” said Papademetriou. “That’s not a reflection of need,” he said, “but of people being scared to go out in public to seek care.”
He stressed that both residential and outpatient treatment options are still available in Berks County.