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Counselors in Hampton Rods say relapses, new addictions are rising

The isolation that's come because of coronavirus is leading people to substance abuse or back to it.

NORFOLK, Va. — Quarantine can be risky for former addicts, but local counselors tell us it’s causing people who’ve never had a problem to develop one.

The loss of jobs and sick family members are both chronic stressors during this pandemic.

“We are hearing from a lot of people that they have relapsed from drugs or alcohol,” said Licensed Professional Counselor Theresa Newman.

Newman is the program supervisor at the City of Virginia Beach’s crisis stabilization center, Pathways. She said relapse incidents are on the rise.

Isolation only makes the situation worse.

“We’ve seen an increase in people who haven’t already identified with addiction, but now they are starting to drink more,” said Liberating Lives Psychologist Dr. Libby Cutshall.

Newman said a lot of substances are more accessible than ever before. She pointed out the fact that people can now get to-go cocktails from restaurants.

“There is a lot of access to alcohol,” Newman said. “With the stimulus money going on to the streets there is a lot of access to drugs on the street.”

Right now, anyone can hop on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting online, but many crave the in-person support.

Cutshall’s practice is offering Zoom meetings as well, but it’s not ideal for some patients.

“A lot of clients I have to see face-to-face, wearing personal protection equipment, the whole nine yards,” Cutshall said. “Because quite frankly, sometimes people need that face-to-face interaction.”

Cutshall said people should continue with daily routines to keep a healthy mindset.

“Get up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, get up and get dressed,” Cutshall said.

Keep active, call a relative or a Chesapeake counselor recommends jotting feelings down.

“Even if they tear up the pages afterwards, nobody has to see what they put out,” said Recovery Journal founder Jessica Eddins. “Just as long as it is a release for them.”

There are signs that a habit is getting out of hand.

“If you are drinking more without feeling the same effects, so it takes more to feel more,” Cutshall said.

“If their first go to when they get stressed or fearful is to pick up alcohol, or take a drug,” Newman said.

Both said their facilities are taking new patients and that resources are everywhere.

“There is a lot of help available and they don’t want a difficult situation to get worse, with an addiction problem on top of it,” Newman said.

Help is also just a phone call away. Newman said peer support specialists, who have experience with addiction, are available to talk in every Hampton Roads City.

Resources in Hampton Roads:

Virginia Beach

Peer Support Specialists – (757) 402- 6190

Behavioral Health Resources

Norfolk

Peer Support Specialists – (757)- 664-6683

Community services

https://www.tidewaterintergroup.org/

Virginia

Peer Support Specialists for Virginia

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