Experts Talk About Addiction During a Pandemic

A rise in drug overdoses has been eclipsed by the seesawing caseload of coronavirus cases during this once-in-a-century pandemic. Those who work with recovering addicts have been working overtime to provide care in a way they haven’t before.

Hope Not Handcuffs Logo (Courtesy: Reprieve LLC)

“We in the recovery community have noticed a huge intake and people seeking recovery, especially from heroin seems like opioids is still the number one offender,” said Michael Fanelli, president of the board for the Mid-Hudson Addiction Recovery Community (MARC) Foundation. “Opioids are just ripping apart our communities.”

MARC Foundation logo (Courtesy Photo)

According to Fanelli, a big factor for an increase in intakes for addiction treatment programs is a growing mental health crisis.

“Depression is huge, and anxiety.” he said. “You turn on the TV, it feels like Armageddon every time you turn on the TV.”

An increase in suicide rates appear to have correlated with a spike in overdoses, which confounds Fanelli.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard that,” he said. “That’s something that we are really concerned about.”

This is why pointing people to treatment is now more important than ever. Cathy Kennedy of Hope Not Handcuffs helps make sure that individuals suffering from addiction get the care they need.

Hope Not Handcuffs is a program that is geared towards pointing individuals suffering from addiction to treatment options other than spending a stint in prison.

“We will help them find the resources that are available at this point,” she said. “People come to us a lot of times without insurance, and we help them navigate the system.”

Both Kennedy and Fanelli agree that the recognition of drug addiction as a health issue still has a long way to go.

“When I watch the news, or I’m at a seminar, the language still hasn’t changed to where I would like to see it,” said Kennedy. “I would like people to realize that addiction is a disease. We don’t want anyone to be referred to as addicts or junkies.”

Fanelli points to the billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry as a factor in why the American people fail to recognize drug addiction as a health issue.

“There’s so much money from the pharmaceutical industry,” he said. “People have been affected by opioid overdoses and families have been torn apart. But nobody talks about [the power of the pharmaceutical industry].”

Either way, they both stress to recovering addicts that hope is on the way during a high-stress time.

“The farther you fall down the life, the higher you can go,” said Fanelli. “Recovery is possible, but it doesn’t happen by osmosis, recovery is an action word and recovery is going to require you to actually do something about it.”

Kennedy also urges that Hope Not Handcuffs is one call away for those who need help.

“We’re a phone call away,” she said. “They can call us, we walk them through the process. It’s a pretty simple process where we’re here to see that compassion in hand and to help them navigate during a difficult time.”

For more information visit: (Hope Not Handuffs’ Facebook page) (MARC Foundation Website)

Published by Mallika Rao

Freelance Writer, Blogger

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