Pandemic brings challenges to addiction recovery

Posted at 3:10 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-19 16:10:03-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With shutdowns and social distancing, increased loneliness has become a byproduct of the pandemic. But for those in recovery or in active addiction, that isolation can make things especially hard.

Dr. Kenneth Zoucha is the Director of the Addiction Division in the Department of Psychiatry at UNMC. He says he’s noticed more people asking for their services and more people seeking hospital treatment for withdrawal.

“I think we’ve probably seen, or I have, an increased number of patients who have lapsed... who were in recovery and ended up, unfortunately, going back to using their substance of choice,” said Dr. Zoucha.

Dr. Zoucha adds that alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the area. Nationally, data from Nielsen shows alcohol sales grew by 54% in the third week of March compared to last year.

“I think that isolation and the stress increased the number of people that unfortunately have lapsed, but people are also working really hard to find recovery as well,” said Dr. Zoucha.

John Duggins, an addiction and mental health therapist with CHI, says there are still various resources out there to get help.

“We are seeing a little bit more of a rise in agencies like this being more open. You can come in, we have a walk-in clinic, you can come in and be evaluated,” said Duggins.

Support groups are still meeting both in-person and online.

“Things like the 12 Step programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, we’re seeing a little bit more openness I’d say, but there’s still a lot of Zoom availability,” said Duggins.

Kathy Johnston is the executive director at Valley Hope of Omaha, an addiction treatment center. She says reaching out is nothing to be ashamed of.

“These are tough times that we’re in, and making sure that you’re not isolating, not falling deeper into your depression and anxiety… reach out for that help. Nobody has to die from this disease and nobody has to struggle alone with this disease,” said Johnston.

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