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Recovery is essential

As Maryland geared up to fight the coronavirus, we’ve all likely learned about “essential” and “non-essential” businesses and services.

But, one essential service that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough is treatment and recovery services for those struggling with addiction. In these unprecedented times, the normal stress of recovery is compounded by lost jobs, trouble making ends meet, and losing the important face-to-face interaction that those in recovery need.

As was noted in a previous RALI blog, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to alter the course of recovery and interrupt treatment for many people with substance use disorders, exacerbating a crisis within a crisis.

While it may not be ideal in every circumstance, the good news is that resources are still available. Recovery centers and houses continue to operate, support groups are now meeting online, and crisis lines are still open.

Marylanders, fortunately, have access to numerous resources.

If you or somebody you know needs immediate help, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a list of opioid treatment centers in Maryland. SAMHSA also has a website devoted to finding treatment for all substance use disorders.

Please be sure to check with each facility before visiting to know their entrance procedures as related to COVID-19. Guidelines have been put in place regarding screening of patients, and regular hours may be affected depending on location.

We’re also seeing extraordinary actions to help those in recovery and their families get through this extraordinarily difficult time.

For example:

  • As unemployment rises and people in treatment are seeing jobs disappear and hours cut, some recovery houses are thinking creatively about how to give their residents a sense of purpose and allow them to be contributing members of their community. Residents in recovery houses in Berlin and Salisbury are building and planting vegetable gardens that will provide food for their own houses and their neighbors.

  • About half of people with a substance use disorder also experience serious mental illness. To help anyone who needs support during this time, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Maryland has started a free webinar series which began on April 13. NAMI Maryland also has a trove of mental health resources related to the coronavirus on its website.

Lastly, the state’s 2-1-1 hotline is staffed 24 hours a day to help individuals or family members in need.

Our country, state and communities are facing a public health crisis that is spilling into all facets of our lives. As we face the days, weeks and months ahead, we understand just how hard it can be to face the challenges of our friends and neighbors dealing with a substance use disorder. There are resources available across the state through recovery houses and support groups, with many moving online to be even more accessible.

Please don’t hesitate to ask for help, and don’t give up on your recovery!

Stay safe and remember that recovery is essential.

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