EL DORADO, Ark. (04/06/20) — Alcohol and drug addiction is steadily on the increase and it definitely hasn’t taken a break during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many services have gone digital but is that connection really helping recovering addicts during these uncertain times? Some counselors it’s helping some but not all.
“I would guess that I’ve had 12 calls in just the last two weeks of people with long term sobriety who have relapsed,” Loren Beck, counselor at Palmetto Recovery Center said.
Beck is also a site director at South Arkansas Regional Health Center in El Dorado. His colleague, Jennifer Eley has also seen clients on edge.
“We’ve had more and more clients concerned about the virus,” she said. “Anxiety rose. Depression seemed to increase when you’re isolated more and stuck at home. Roles are changing.”
Although many people have used the internet to connect, this method hasn’t been working for everyone.
“All the AAA and NAA meetings are being held right now through Zoom,” Beck said.
“I talked to another fellow addict that has about a month and half in recovery and they said ‘the first few days of doing the meetings on the web was cool. It was interesting but I’m real bored with it now. There’s no one checking on me after the meetings.'”
South Arkansas Regional Health Center has expanded its services to its clients through telehealth and online apps.
However, they say they understand the value of physical interaction and the role it plays in a person’s recovery process. That’s why they’re still seeing clients face to face.
“There’s a lot I think that don’t have that access and this is their only option to come in,” Eley said.
Beck agreed saying that SARHC continuing to meet the needs of clients is necessary.
“Alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease of isolation,” he said. “Alcohol and drug addicts are used to separating themselves for everybody. Right now, the disease is running rapid.
Even though the world is going through a crisis, counselors say that doesn’t mean those recovering or trying to recover have to wait until it’s all over to get help.
Although they prefer clients use the telehealth clinical services to meet with counselors, they are still meeting face to face especially when the client needs to.
“We have centers and offices in El Dorado, Camden, Magnolia, Fordyce, Prescott and Hampton,” Eley said. “We are open for face to face services in all of those locations.”
SARHC’s business hours in El Dorado are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They can be reached 24 hours throughout the week by phone at 870-862-7291 or 1-800-825-1554.
The center is following guidelines from the CDC and state health department. They are screening employees and visitors who come into the office. Eley says they’re also cleaning the facility everyday.