By Nancy Price
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise again, worry over the future has continued, leading to more anxiety and loneliness. During these stressful times, many have succumbed to alcohol and drug addictions.
“COVID-19 has brought isolation and seclusion to the forefront of our communities,” said Justin R. Beattey, director for the Indiana Association of Peer Recovery Support Services (IAPRSS). “There has been a rise in overdoses, substance usage in general and alcohol sales. The stress, uncertainty and isolation has brought upon our communities experiences that most did not imagine would happen. As part of this, people have not been able to find the support and connection many desire. This continues to be a concern for our communities, even as some COVID-19 restrictions have eased. Many have created patterns of behavior, or dependencies, that will continue once social distancing restrictions are lifted.”
“Many individuals struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) and addiction don’t seek treatment due to the wide range of stigmas they face,” said Diana Hendricks, executive director for Beech Grove CDFC (Comprehensive Drug-Free Coalition).
“Overall, our society has an image in their head of what a substance user is,” added Beattey. “They typically do not acknowledge that those who use substances are daughters, sons, mothers, fathers and a so forth. When we begin to look at substance use as a disease and not a moral failing, this allows us to understand we are discussing humans and not the inanimate objects we can push aside. Everyone deserves a chance at positive change.”
Peer support workers have been successful in the recovery process themselves and can help those currently struggling with addictions by providing non-judgmental support and understanding. “Peer support removes the shame individuals often experience through more clinical settings, eliminating barriers to seeking treatment.”
“A peer recovery coach supports a person as they identify their recovery pathway and the coach offers navigation of systems/resources, suggestions (with permission) and connection to a positive mentor and role model,” said Beattey. “The peer support allow a person to feel valued by the peer, showing empathy, empowering the person and supporting them regardless of where that person is in their life. Peer recovery coaches help a person see that recovery is possible and that the person can implement positive change in their life.”
There are multiple service providers for peer recovery support in the Greater Indianapolis Metropolitan area, including the Southside. The Indiana Recovery Network provides substance use and mental health peer support to anyone in need, regardless of income level or insurance status. To access free support, visit indianarecoverynetwork.org or call 211 and choose option 6. “This peer can assist a person with connection to resources, navigation of life’s situations or just support the person with where they are at in their life,” said Beattey. “This project has also created Peer 2 Peer meetings via Zoom that allow people to connect and support one another.”
“These gatherings invited the participants to share about amongst each other and connect. There is typically not a set topic, and this allows people to connect and support one another with their current life experiences. Anyone is welcome to join, anytime they wish.”