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Recovery and sobriety during quarantine

Group therapy moves online and experts brace for an uptick in substance abuse

Tim Dunn was four years into his recovery journey from a heroin addiction, and living at Elyria’s Road to Hope House when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

"I started drinking and smoking with my friends about 15 years old and from there you know things progressed. Just like so many people's stories, I started experimenting with a lot of different drugs," Dunn told 3News about his addiction history.

Thankfully, he found help and a community at Road to Hope House when he first moved there in 2016.

Four years later, he's almost ready to move on. He would have graduated from a physical therapy assistant program in May. But now, his next step is on hold. 

"Everybody's struggling...and in the beginning of [the pandemic] I was a little too much invested into myself, about how this would affect me and all that stuff," he said. 

But Tim told 3News that support from within the recovery community has helped keep his outlook positive.

"The relationships with each other, us at this house, has definitely grown and gotten better because of this.We're all going through the same thing," he explained.

He also credits the facility's staff for their commitment during this time.

"I’m really grateful for them for everything that they’re doing. This is our home and we’re family, and could definitely feel that from the staff."

These are stressful times for all of us, and experts expect to see an uptick in substance abuse as a result. 

"once this epidemic is over I anticipate that we're going to have a avalanche of people seeking care," said Tom Stuber, President and CEO of The LCADA Way.

Stuber explained that a sense of community is key for those struggling with addiction and mental illness.

"It is critically important that you’re able to connect with other people and get the recovery supports you need and avoid isolation."

As a result, group therapy and 12-step meetings have moved online. Dunn says, he's enjoyed the virtual connections.

"We’ve done the online meetings quite a bit with other guys in the recovery community and 12-step meetings using you know the Zoom app. We could see all the guys in the community that we know and have helped us out a lot, so those meetings are really cool."

Yet, many who are struggling with addiction during this time, have yet to begin their road to recovery. Stuber says they are the most vulnerable right now.

"Social isolation is going to be the consequence of this pandemic and you're going to see increases in drug abuse and suicidal ideation, and other social consequences."

That's why, he says, it's important to know that help is out there. 

"Nobody needs to suffer on their own and certainly you know using alcohol and drug is not the solution to solving your social isIf yolation it only intensifies the problem.'

Dunn says even a simple phone call can go a long way. 

"Pick up that phone and just call people and see how they're doing. That phone call can make such a difference in someone's day."

If you or someone you know needs help, the below resources specialize in addiction and mental health services:

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services - visit their website here or call 1-877-275-6364

The LCADA Way - visit their website here or call 1-440- 989-4900 

The Emerald Jenny Foundation - visit their website here or call 1-800-662-HELP

ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County - visit their website here or call 216-623-6888

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