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Boyle ASAP encourages virtual resources, but says communities must help support those battling addiction now more than ever 

Kathy Miles, coordinator for Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP), says this is a really challenging time — for everyone. But some are encountering even more difficulty than just social-distancing and wearing a mask in public during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Anyone with extra challenges and pre-existing conditions, which include substance use disorders, has even more extra challenges,” she says. 

Addiction has always been strongly connected with the feeling of isolation, which of course will be increased during this unprecedented time, where folks are being told to stay at home unless it’s imperative to venture out. Many predict the social-distancing advice could turn into even more strict national guidelines as the corona infection rates and death tolls increase. 

Due to the situation, Miles says lots of resources and information have been coming out from state and national sources, including multiple online offerings. 

“The rapid loss of jobs for so many who are newly in recovery, newly out of jail, is really hard right now, particularly if those job losses include a loss of medical coverage.” Insurance coverage includes access to treatment, she says — outpatient, inpatient, intensive outpatient, residential … 

“We need to reiterate what Gov. Beshear has been saying: Apply for Medicaid if you have lost your coverage. Don’t be ashamed — do it.” 

She says “support” and “information” are key words for those with substance use disorders right now, whether they are in recovery or still in active addiction. 

“Support may look and seem very different right now, but it is so important. So online support — whether in an online, 12-step group or from a therapist who is ‘seeing’ clients virtually, such as those at New Vista — is important.” 

New Vista, a non-profit organization, provides outpatient services to almost 25,000 adults, children and families in 17 Central Kentucky counties. It works with communities to develop programs enabling them to respond quickly to needs. According to its website, it provides 1.3 million in free clinical services, and maintains a staff of nearly 300 clinicians. 

New Vista’s 24-hour help hotline can be reached by calling (800) 928-8000, or by texting HOPE to 96714.

Although it’s important, as always, Miles says, for the community to support struggling individuals by reaching out via phone, maybe just to offer an ear, it’s also imperative these individuals still seek professional help whenever they can. 

She says people who are active in 12-step programs, like AA or NA, may want to call their sponsors more often during this time. 

“Just like people who have diabetes can’t forget to do the things they need to do to take care of that pre-existing condition …” she says people in recovery from substance use disorder must continue to do what they have learned to take care of themselves, and stay in recovery.

 

“Finally, I think that the governor’s approach to his daily briefings is very sound — give accurate information, and tell the people where to find resources,” Miles says. “And don’t downplay the crisis, but don’t catastrophize — be honest.” 

She says this also means explaining to kids what is going on in a way that they can understand at their developmental age. “And, simultaneously, be hopeful — which is something we’ve learned in a big way as we have dealt with the drug crisis.” 

Miles says now more than ever is the time to stress the “we” part of this, including supporting those who may still be battling addiction issues as they are staying isolated. 

She says it’s important to stress “we are in this together, rather than ‘I have to face this alone.’” 

Coming up: Check back Tuesday to find out how a local outpatient treatment center is handling its clients during the virus pandemic.