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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most dangerous time of the year for substance use and alcohol-related deaths is around the holiday months. This year as people deal with isolation, anxiety and stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, even more people may be at risk.
The pandemic has been particularly hard on people with substance use disorders. The CDC has reported the highest number of drug overdose deaths ever recorded in a one-year period, with 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in May 2020.
“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. “As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it’s important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways. We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences.”
The good news is this: whether you are seeking support or treatment, help is available in Berks County.
While many support groups have been forced to cancel in-person meetings, they’ve adapted to the times by hosting virtual meetings. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery all offer local, virtual recovery support so that help is available 24/7.
During a recent BCTV episode on Sober Holidays, Certified Recovery Specialist Lee Cruz stressed that it’s crucial for people in early recovery to attend mutual support meetings on a daily basis during the first six months.
“Consistency is what keeps us successful,” Cruz said.
A number of treatment options remain available for Berks County residents struggling with substance use disorder. Those include residential, outpatient, withdrawal management, medication assisted treatment and transitional houses, which have continued operating throughout the pandemic. While county officials have reported an uptick in overdose deaths in 2020, District Attorney John Adams has stressed that “there are a lot of avenues to seek help here in Berks County.”
Family, friends, and even coworkers can find themselves with many questions after discovering someone they care for is struggling with addiction. Fortunately, a number of support groups are designed specifically for families and friends.
For people in recovery, it is especially important to find healthy ways to deal with stress and care for their emotional and mental well-being. Exercising, spending time outdoors, eating healthy foods, getting adequate sleep and staying connected to family and friends all contribute to a person’s mental health.