May 4, 2020

COVID-19 takes toll on those recovering from addiction


MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The novel coronavirus is making life tougher for people struggling with drug and alcohol addictions.

Social distancing has forced 12-step meetings to stop and addiction specialists say that can put some at risk for relapse.

“It is particularly difficult for those people that have co-occurring issues,” said Gene Radino, the owner of New Hope Recovery Center in Modesto. “Some have alcoholism and depression.”

Radino said COVID-19 is taking a toll on the recovery community in a number of ways. He said because of the pandemic, fewer people are seeking treatment. 

“I think our level of inquiry is down 40 to 45%,” Radino explained.

While New Hope is still taking in new residential clients, the virus has changed how they operate, including screening new clients for COVID-19 and sanitizing common areas every few hours. 

“Normally, it's two people to a room, and so we stopped doing that. Now it's just one person to a room,” Radino told FOX40.

During this time, addiction specialists say there are a number of online resources recovering addicts can turn to, like SoberBuddy. 

“It's an online virtual coach to help people in their recovery from drugs and alcohol,” said co-founder of SoberBuddy Paul Brethen. 

Brethen said thousands have already signed up to receive daily email challenges to keep them on the path to recovery.

“We talk about relapse, prevention skills, how to manage triggers and cravings,” he said.

While online alternatives are helpful, Radino said he is worried about the impact stay-at-home orders will have on recovering addicts months from now if they are still in place.

“There is no substitute for physical interaction with folks,” he said. “And in the recovery community, there is a lot of hand-holding, there is a lot of hugging, there's a lot of love that is shared as we support one another.”

Despite the health crisis, he said the time is always right to get help.

“Don't give up trying to get sober. Don't give up trying to get clean. Don't give up trying to change your life,” Radino said.


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