SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (WMC) - A problem that isn’t going away during this pandemic is killing hundreds of people a day -- the opioid epidemic continues in the United States.
Every day people are choosing to seek help for their addiction and treatment centers need to be open to accept them.
”Even as the pandemic is going on there is still an epidemic going on as well, this opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Kallol Saha, medical director at Turning Point.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioids have killed more than 450,000 people since 1999. While the number of drug overdose deaths has been decreasing, the number is still four times higher than it was 20 years ago.
So, even during a pandemic, treatment centers, like Turning Point in Southaven, are inviting those who need help inside.
“Addiction is a disease of isolation. So, when [relapse or addiction] happens, if [patients] feel like they have to go into the facility physically they can,” Saha said.
There is social distancing in group therapy meetings and clients seeking inpatient treatment are being screened for signs of COVID-19 at Turning Point, but for the most part doctors want to keep the treatment the way it’s been.
While differing factors play into it, Turning Point has seen double the number of clients this year compared to this time last year.
Where it is possible the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has encouraged telemedicine, Turning Point is now offering telemedicine for outpatient clients, and they’re offering weekly zoom calls with alumni and the greater Mid-South community. At times these meetings are taking the place of AA and NA meetings.
“A lot of our alumni are having issues finding meetings because they’re closed. So, they’re very grateful we’re doing [the Zoom calls],” Turning Point’s Wendy Srour said.
Srour is a recovery specialist at Turning Point and an alum of the program. She said addicts often have trouble asking for help.
But since the pandemic was declared those suffering across the country have sought emergency services through the national disaster distress hotline. There’s been a nearly 900% increase in calls compared to last year.
“That’s a big step. Asking for help,” Srour said.
The National Disaster Distress hotline can give you emergency counseling services. That number is 1-800-985-5990.