To the Editor:

All of us, in one way or many, are living through a variety of extreme challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to acknowledge the serious issues related to mental health, addiction, and recovery that are relevant to all of us, and are impacting our community. We also need to be aware of the resources available to help.

It should concern all of us that Iredell County has experienced a nearly 200 percent increase in opioid overdoses in the last two months, compared to the first two months of 2020. This is a local statistic based on Iredell County EMS encounters and does not include incidents where law enforcement, fire fighters or other first responders may have administered Narcan (an overdose reversal medication). This means the increase in the number of opioid overdoses is likely even higher than 200 percent. During the same time frame (March and April of 2020) our local emergency departments have treated over 250 individuals with drug or alcohol use or dependence. These statistics are not a reflection of what any of us are doing wrong in Iredell County, but rather a wake-up call to some of the realities out there stemming from an extreme season of life for all of us.

Social distancing and isolation have strained all parts of life during the COVID-19 and have put individuals struggling with addiction and sobriety, in particular, at risk for relapse in a number of ways including, but not limited to inability to access in-person recovery group settings and idle time due to job losses. Traditional support systems such as 12-step programs and faith-based meetings have been almost altogether inaccessible due to social-distancing guidelines. Similarly, many other activities and hobbies utilized by individuals to maintain recovery — such as recreational facilities, places of worship and restaurants/coffee shops — have also been limited due to the ordered closing of businesses.

Iredell County has many dedicated substance use treatment providers and professionals who have continued to see individuals virtually and in-office during COVID-19. Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell (DACI) is committed to the reduction and prevention of alcohol and substance misuse, overdose and overdose deaths in Iredell County. DACI is comprised of over 60 community agencies and organizations with the common goal of providing support and hope to individuals and families who are impacted by addiction. If you or someone you know is at risk or needs help, please visit our website www.daciredell.org or give us a call at 704-880-3350. We can help!

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, it is more important now than ever to maintain relationships. A phone call, for example, could go a long way.

Jill St.Clair, Director
Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell

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