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Reader: Lockdowns Affecting Mental Health? Who'd Guess That?

Reader: Lockdowns Affecting Mental Health? Who'd Guess That?EXPAND
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One of the early challenges of life during a coronavirus pandemic: figuring out how to hold virtual recovery meetings, when fellowship is such an important part of the 12-step process. Sage Marshall explored that challenge this spring, and recently revisited the topic.

While telehealth services have expanded, he found that many people miss their in-person meetings. More concerning: Overdoses are definitely up in metro Denver. According to the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, there were 294 drug-related deaths between January 1 and December 18, easily surpassing 2019's total of 225. Fentanyl-related overdose deaths skyrocketed from 56 in 2019 to 123 during the same period, and the biggest monthly overdose spikes came in April, June, July and August, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Colorado.

With months, maybe more, to go before in-person meetings can be resumed, readers debated the situation in comments on the Facebook post of "Zoomed Out: Recovery Community Facing a COVID-19 Winter."

Says Revy:

It's almost like the lockdowns are having a negative impact on mental health. Huh, who could guessed?

Adds Kristine: 

And not having lockdowns prolong the pandemic and result in lost loved ones. So kinda a catch-22.

Suggests Paul:

Make rehab free of charge so people can get the help they need. I am a 22-year recovering cocaine addict. If my parents wouldn't have paid for rehab, who knows where I'd be or if I'd be at all. So the deaths are on the rise because people can't afford help like they could the year before. Also, more people have started doing harder drugs because of the pandemic. The solution is free rehab centers or free rehab in hospitals. We aren't going to be able to curb the overdoses until we curb this virus. But we also won't get anywhere with so many people out of work. We need to find a balance. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution.

Notes Victoria:

A large part of the increasing overdose deaths are connected to supply chain problems. As the supply of opioids and heroin have been interrupted, dealers have been substituting more dangerous substances such as fetanyl. Clearly we need to address the struggles of addiction, but the data show there has NOT been a significant increase in new users this year.

Counters Amber: 

I have to completely disagree....There has been a significant increase, with more losing their homes and businesses they worked so hard to gain. The mental health of those who rely on social interaction... depression has gone up, and the ones who have suffered from it for a long time have gotten worse. More and more people are trying to escape from this reality.

Think about what happened a few years back when the market almost crashed. Some people think closing businesses is helping curb this virus, but in reality it's hurting people far worse then you may actually imagine. If you're not in their shoes mentally, you will never ever understand the struggle.

What do you think should be done to help those struggling with addiction? Mental health issues? Post a comment or email your thoughts to editorial@westword.com.

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