The coronavirus has posed special problems for those struggling with addiction in Montgomery County, especially those in the military community.
The ability to get alcohol delivered to one’s home presents added temptations. Though the statewide safer-at-home order expired last week, resumption of most face-to-face support groups for addicts, which were suspended during the lockdown, has not started yet. Some are still stuck at home due to job layoffs or furloughs, and so the continued isolation, coupled financial stressors, are a recipe for relapse.
William Rogers is the executive director for Clarksville Comprehensive Treatment Center, an outpatient facility that opened in Clarksville in March, and he has worked in the field of addictions recovery for the past 11 years.
“Many bus routes have been reduced to only necessary, high-traffic areas,” Rogers said. “In my experience, about 30% of the community depend upon public transportation. One of the biggest components of recovery is having a sense of community. Meetings, support groups, and counseling are a huge part of a patient’s success when they’re going through the recovery process. Not having the actual one-on-one, face-to-face form of contact or a physical meeting space, for that matter, is very hard for this population. Another challenge due to this unfortunate circumstance is the lack of jobs.”
Kayla McGladdery, of Clarksville, was in active drug addiction for several years and has ties to the local military community.
“My doctor who I have now thoroughly believes this, and it’s the only way I know how to control my addiction. If you control and heal an addict’s depression or anxiety, then that addict can control their addiction,” McGladdery said. “It’s the anxiety and depression that makes you want to go and do drugs. If you address those two components first, it kind of exes out the addict part. If this [pandemic] has caused the addict anxiety or depression, it’ll have a major effect on how they manage their addiction.”
According to McGladdery, another result of the outbreak was relaxed accountability standards for addicts who are on probation with the court system for drug charges, and so the window of opportunity to abuse again is much wider.
A subset of the local recovery community that is facing added difficulties are those in the military.
“Being in the military can add another layer of anxiety and depression, because, say, you have a solider with PTSD? They don’t need any more anxiety or depression. And this [coronavirus] being on the news 24/7, not giving people the chance to not think about it, that increases the anxiety,” McGladdery said.
A common phrase uttered by those in recovery is, “addiction breeds in isolation.” Whether physically stuck at home or just getting overwhelmed with feeling alone due to the present circumstances, many struggling to overcome addiction find themselves being drawn back to bad habits under the present conditions.
Shane Morton is the encouragement coach with Celebrate Recovery at Grace Community Church in Clarksville. Celebrate Recovery is a worldwide, Christian-based 12-step program that helps people with any kind of life-controlling issue.
“I think it’s a generality, but it’s a generality that seems to hold true, that isolation is a very common problem with people that have addictions,” Morton said. “For some people, that ends up being triggering. So instead of coming together at least once a week, or I’m going to two or three Celebrate Recovery meetings throughout the community, now I really can’t do that. That isolating has a tendency to have people mentally want to seek comfort from their addictions that they may have had previously.
“Being in isolation, you have a lot more time to sit around and think about things instead of keeping yourself busy or doing things that you, normally, would not think twice about doing.”
Though circumstances are less than ideal, those in Montgomery County who want to stay on track with their recovery through this pandemic still have options.
“If there’s any possible way to make online meetings, I would do that,” Morton said. “One of the great things the Celebrate Recovery national team is doing is they’re having nightly meetings on Facebook Live, and those are really helpful. It is important to have connections with people who have been there before, people who have experienced some of the same things, and that can give that experience and hope.”
Rogers said, “The support system is everywhere. It’s not just a matter of having a sponsor or a specific person or place to go to, but we, as a society as a whole, is a large support system, and that we’re all pulling for each other, especially within this whole pandemic’s that’s going on. I would also encourage people to call sponsors. Contact your therapist or counselor. Contact your insurance company about telehealth. Stay engaged in the present, not to go back and revert back to what you came from when your addiction either first started or what you’ve had to overcome while seeking treatment. Find a good book to read. Draw or paint. Do something that is inspiring. Maybe just go outside and get some fresh air and do some exercise while you are out there. Continue to reach out to those that you can support in this time of need. They themselves may not think that they’re helping, but just that simple phone call will make a big difference. Just stay in contact with people. Continue to remind them that they’re not alone. This is not something that’s going to last forever.”
For more information about Clarksville Comprehensive Treatment Center, visit ctcprograms.com. For more information about Celebrate Recovery at Grace Community Church, visit graceclarksville.com/media/celebrate-recovery. To watch Celebrate Recovery’s nightly Facebook livestreams, visit facebook.com/celebraterecovery.