Addiction Recovery Meetings In Illinois Continue Despite COVID-19 Spread
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, some Illinois centers that treat people with substance use disorders will continue with outpatient and residential services. However, there are other options for those who choose to stay home.
Addiction recovery meetings are still taking place with small groups at some treatment centers, and centers are now offering virtual and over-the-phone options for patients.
Kerry Henry, executive director of Gateway Foundation in Springfield, said precautionary measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 are enforced for those still attending sessions.
“We will remain open for those who want to come in and still do group as long as we don't have more than 10 in a group, and we practice social distancing,” said Henry. “We are making some changes at the residential center to better safeguard our campus.”
Gateway is now a closed campus, and only patients who are well will be allowed into the facility. Visitation is limited.
Gateway is currently accepting new patients, and they will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19. First, an over-the-phone screen will include asking patients if they were exposed to the virus, or if they feel any related symptoms. They also will be asked if they have any pre-existing health conditions that could put them at risk.
“The initial screening when they get here is a little intense. We just want to make sure they are well enough and safe enough to be able to come into the population,” Henry said.
Henry said addiction recovery services must go on because there are concerns fear of the virus can lead to more anxiety, and that can escalate addiction.
Joan Hartman, vice president of behavioral health at Chestnut Health Systems in Bloomington, said an interruption of meetings would have a negative impact on people experiencing drug or alcohol problems and their recovery.
“I think the biggest concern would be people being pessimistic and depressed, and having a difficult time getting the support that they need, which would continue their use and put their lies at risk,” said Hartman.
Hartman urges everyone in recovery who can’t come in for treatment to contact their sponsors over the phone, take advantage of other options - such as virtual 12-Step Programs, or call an addiction recovery hotline.