Staying Sober & Safe

By: Melinda Swan

Don’t Let COVID-19 Derail Recovery

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in everyone’s life, leaving people and families feeling fearful, anxious and confused. For people with addiction disorders, whether substance abuse or gambling, the “new normal” foments the perfect storm for relapse. Climate shifts from social isolation, lack of access to support and treatment resources to anxiety and worry over finances and health issues can overwhelm and trigger a natural desire to find relief.

Unfortunately, the brain’s relief valve may fall back on addictive behaviors.

The truth about relapse during a pandemic is now undeniable. Data from the Franklin County Coroner and the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Franklin County tragically demonstrate that overdose deaths are climbing. Frontline providers struggle to fight a virus with no vaccine at the same time they take on a chronic and complicated brain disorder.

If you’re reading this blog, you likely know these issues all too well, either personally or because you care about a loved one, friend, colleague or client. The risks are high and consequences could be severe.

So, let’s start from one key premise: We cannot change the shelter-in-place orders, but we can take do what we need to do to stay well, safe and sober. What we can do is the focus of our next series of blogs from Maryhaven, based upon advice from their experts. So, let’s get started:

STEP ONE:  Find Support Where You Can

The coronavirus may temporarily curtail one-on-one meetings with counselors, group counseling and support groups such as Alcoholics or Gamblers Anonymous or Al-Anon. The lack of these options can seem daunting, especially if these resources were an integral part of your daily recovery plan.

Good news though. COVID-19 pushed decision-makers to finally agree that telehealth can be covered by Medicaid and Medicare, paving the way for you to continue counseling sessions online or over the phone. Be sure to reach out to your treatment provider to see what options exist for you.

Likewise, many support groups offer online meetings. Go to websites such as or Families can go to among others.

Gamblers Anonymous offers a call in meeting every day of the week:

Maryhaven is open and offering online and phone counseling to individuals and to groups for substance abuse or gambling disorders. Call 614-445-8131 or visit to connect or ask questions.

You can also find a number of support groups listed on the ADAMH of Franklin County website or call 614-224-1057.

If you’re in crisis or on the brink of relapse, call the confidential licensed counselors who staff our 24-hour county crisis line at 614-276-CARE. Or, if it is more comfortable and you need privacy, use the chat function to connect with a counselor through or

You may feel very alone. You may live with people who don’t understand. They judge you or, worse, they tempt you to join them in using drugs or alcohol or placing bets. You may not be able to change their behavior.

But you can find people who will support you and, even though they’re physically remote, they can be just as personal and intimate as someone in the next room.

The first step always starts by connecting to people who shore you up, even when you think you’re sinking.

Stay safe and well.

About the Author

Melinda Swan

Melinda Swan is a blogger for Maryhaven. She has worked closely with the experts at Maryhaven since the launch of One More Chance in 2015.

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