The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on those suffering from addiction

The stay-at-home order has caused concern for people dealing with addiction.

Isolation from others makes it hard, if not impossible, to undergo treatment and counseling.

As COVID-19 cases continue to dramatically rise, and people become more isolated, addiction and recovery programs are still open for business.

"While we are abiding by the guidelines of our public health experts including the CDC, we are a health care facility and we are taking patients who require residential treatment," said William Moyes, with the Hazleden Betty Ford Foundation.

While in-patient treatment continues at Hazelden Chicago and the Chicago-based Gateway, outpatient treatment has gone completely virtual.

The change is tough considering recovery is all about face-to-face interaction. It's something Gateway President & CEO Thomas Britton, who is in recovery, is experiencing.

"It's obviously not the same to be on camera as it is to sit next to somebody, but in the environment we are in right now, it's put it all in perspective," he said.

Gateway has an app where people can connect with each other and Hazelden has Recoverygo, where patients can talk to each other through mobile devices. Still, addiction experts worry people who need help during this crisis won't get it.

"At the same time, we know a lot of people are going to use this crisis as an excuse not to get help or an an excuse to continue to use," Moyers said.

Since addiction is about isolation and liquor sales during this crisis are up, Gateway says there is between 40 to 60 million people that are using drugs and alcohol in an unhealthy way. COVID-19 may be the crisis that pushes them into recovery.

"I think people in isolation it's going to get worse from them and they are going to become aware how badly their using really is and I think that will be the driver into care," Britton said.

When the crisis is over, addiction programs expect a surge of patients, but there is help now if they need it.
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