The isolation that comes with being at home can take its toll on anyone, but it can prove deadly for people struggling with addiction.
“A big part of recovery is being together and having people you can talk with,” said Brian Ready, co-founder and CEO of Oaks Recovery Center.
Oaks offers people seeking help on their road to recovery a space of support and nurturing. With the fast-spreading coronavirus forcing so many people to practice social distancing and stay indoors, Ready said he and his staff had to make adjustments to ensure they could still provide that environment in a safe manner.
Using video chat apps, he said internally the organization has been able to stay connected. They’ve also received COVID-19 rapid response tests, which are being used to test people coming in for help and to test staff leaving the program. They’ve shifted their admissions process to be able to direct anyone calling to whatever resources can best help them nowadays.
Still, Ready said he and the others at Oaks hear about people dying every day from overdose — people they’ve met or know about from throughout the country.
“People need to know that they have to reach out for help,” Ready said. “There are resources available. There is help out there. We don’t want to hear about any more people dying.”
Online recovery meetings are available every day of the week, and these services can be found through multiple venues. It’s not just social distancing that’s putting already at-risk people in further danger, but loss of employment, isolation and the added stress of dealing with the near-daily changes.
Telehealth has been an essential tool for the staff over at Cornerstone as well, said Director of Outpatient Services Barbara Robinson. In an attempt to minimize any added stress, she said apps allow the counselors to still have face-to-face sessions with patients up to three times a week, depending on their needs. They can also arrange for patients to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings online.
With some staff working from home, the Cornerstone offices are staffed by a skeleton crew of counselors and support employees.
“We are pushing through that awkwardness and trying to meet the needs of our patients,” Robinson said. “Some counselors prefer to do their telehealth sessions at the office, because families are at home and they can’t find a secure place there.”
In an effort to eliminate barriers to treatment, Cornerstone is helping provide loaner phones for people without the technology needed to do telehealth. Patients have been very interested in continuing their paths to recovery this way.
“I work with a group of very compassionate people, and we work to be very accessible to our patients,” Robinson said. “Working with a group of people who are dedicated to the work we’re doing helps us deal with some of the stress of it all.”
Cornerstone’s office can be reached at 864-227-1001, and Oaks Recovery Center at 864-538-4569.