Those in alcohol, drug recovering programs finding support online during coronavirus pandemic


AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Those recovering from alcohol and drug abuse are finding support during coronavirus pandemic.

Organizations like the Aiken Center, while they haven’t closed their doors completely just yet, are exploring new options to make sure those who struggle from addiction issues don’t fall far behind.

“It’s all a blur. I tell you, I forgot 10 years of my life and then I lived a whole new 10 years in two years and that’s my recovery,” Baker Campbell told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk about his recovery.

“Sometimes chapters in your life that you didn’t understand you were going through turns into the best experience to help others,” Hunter Deas added.

Campbell and Deas are the faces of addiction. The pair have celebrated something that at one time they thought could not have been possible — sobriety.

“We want to avoid not only deaths from the coronavirus with deaths from opioid overdoses,” Deas shared.

But with the milestone, it could have been a setback. A global pandemic forcing in-person support meetings a lifeline for so many to no longer be available.

“You can’t get that warm touch right now. That is something that all of society is struggling with in that way. Our problems are no different from the problems of everyone outside of recovery, as well,” Campbell said.

Now the Aiken Center is working to bridge the gap. Officials with the organization met with clinicians to really figure out what is the best way to continue to be a support system. The group added a number of resources including virtual meetings.

“Right now what we’re doing is we’re encouraging our patients to utilize the AA meetings that are being offered via zoom online,” Executive Administrator Catherine Vance said.

For Baker, he says that when the social distancing practices were in place he wasn’t concerned about himself relapsing but those who may not know about what resources are readily available.

“This is a time when they’re going to be left out in the cold. This is a time when they’re going to have less doorways, less options at least right in front of them,” Campbell added.

Staying clean has become something he’s not taking for granted. He participates in any way he can all while encouraging others help is a click or phone call away.

“I’ve been in recovery meetings with people in Germany. I’ve been in recovery meetings with people in the U.K. I’ve been in recovery meetings with people in Iowa. I’ve been in recovery meetings with people from everywhere,” he said.

Baker and Hunter are sharing the story about their journey and they want to help others too.
A new program is in the works where peer specialists will go beyond the walls of their building to work with those with addiction issues in the community.

“They themselves are going to come out in two-person teams and meet in safe places or on a front porch with all the social distancing to get go through the instructions. Five minutes. It’s easy and it’s important,” Executive Director Margaret Key said.

Although the center is limiting the number of people coming inside that won’t limit the amount of help that they are willing to provide. “We really are going to not make lemonade from all these lemons we’re going to make lemon meringue pie. We’re doing that in all kinds of ways. It is pushing us ever more deeply into alternative means of service delivery. We’re ready,” she added.

The Aiken Center also has a temporary program in which if someone is living with or caring for someone, including themselves, who may be at risk for an opioid overdose, you can pick up Narcan nasal spray.

The program will start Monday, April 13. Curbside pickup is available at the Center 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 pm. Monday – Friday. Home delivery is available, too. You can contact the Aiken Center at (803) 649-1900 for more information.

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