Treatment centers continue to provide services for those struggling with addiction, substance abuse amid COVID-19 concerns

Sierra Rains
Arbuckle Life Solutions Director Kevin Bone said the risk for individuals relapsing or struggling to maintain sobriety may increase during the coronavirus pandemic. However, substance abuse care experts are here to help.

Amid uncertain times and a large degree of self-isolation, those recovering from addiction and substance abuse may find themselves with new challenges. However, staff at treatment centers want those struggling to know they are still here to help.

Across the county, substance abuse care experts and mental health professionals are moving towards Telehealth in order to continue serving those affected by addiction and co-occuring mental health disorders.

One of many local organizations still providing services is Arbuckle Life Solutions Inc. in Ardmore. Executive Director Kevin Bone said all services, including DUI assessments, DUI classes and substance abuse group and individual counseling are being conducted through videoconferencing, or Telehealth.

“We feel it’s still important to carry out our mission, we just have to do it a different way,” Bone said. “People are still struggling, they’re still hurting through addiction or co-occuring mental health disorders.”

Though the process of adapting to new health guidelines has been somewhat difficult, efforts have been made to expand health care providers and substance abuse treatment center’s access to Telehealth programs.

“It’s been kind of a scramble to get that established because it really wasn’t something we were doing before and now with the emergency declaration, we’re able to offer that,” Bone said.

In emergency situations, Bone said individuals will be seen on a case-by-case basis. However, they are trying to limit the amount of in-person contact as much as possible in accordance with CDC guidelines.

At this time, Bone said there have not been any large effects locally as far as individuals struggling with maintaining sobriety during the pandemic, but substance abuse care experts are anticipating the need and are prepared to address more potential crisis situations.

There are several different factors that could potentially lead to individuals relapsing, such as a lack of structure or loss of their job. According to the CDC, stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

“Those people are going to be more vulnerable to relapse and to fall back into addiction because they have more time on their hands and they may not have the coping skills there that they had when they were able to have more structure in their lives,” Bone said.

Using supportive resources to address stress and other hardships is critical for maintaining positive mental health and refraining from substance abuse during times of crisis, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Bone further stressed the importance of reaching out for help when it is needed. “A lot of times people will revert back to those behaviors instead of reaching out to somebody who can help,” he said.

Whether it’s a counselor at Arbuckle Life Solutions, a staff member, a pastor, a previous AA sponsor or just a support person in their lives, individuals should always reach out, Bone said.

“Just to reach out and call and to talk to someone to keep them encouraged and to keep them motivated,” Bone said. “Try to avoid any type of triggers and anything that could lead back to a craving.”

Arbuckle Life Solutions can be reached at (580) 226-1656. Though Arbuckle Life Solutions primarily focuses on addiction services, Bone said they are willing to help in any way possible and can also refer individuals to any other services in the community that might be able to help them.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also offers a free national helpline for treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental and substance use disorders. The helpline can be reached at 1-800-662-4357.