'An epidemic inside a pandemic': Coronavirus presents new challenges for those in addiction recovery

Published: Mar. 31, 2020 at 9:13 PM EDT
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Across the country as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19, there is another battle going on that many addiction recovery centers and those in recovery are fighting.

Those in recovery face one of the toughest times right now: handling isolation.

"We're treating an epidemic inside a pandemic," said Matt Brown with Addiction Recovery Care. "Addiction is the opposite of connection"

Matt Brown is the chief of staff for Addiction Recovery Care, which is based in Lawrence County.

Brown himself is going to celebrate six years clean this May after an 18 year battle with addiction.

"When you're in active addiction, you're actually isolating yourself from people, especially those that love you the most and wanna help you," Brown added.

He says now, more than ever, it is important for people in recovery to stay connected.

"Well, the disease of addiction feeds off isolation, it thrives in isolation," said Albert Kilburn.

Albert and his wife Becky Kilburn are both in recovery too. Becky is now the director of an intensive out-patient program for people with substance use disorder at Mountain Comprehensive Care Centers

"Three face to face contacts per week with the clients, it's intensive," said Becky, describing the process.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that in 2018, 67,367 people died from an overdose, which is about 184 people a day.

American Addiction Centers say that of all Americans over the age of 12 in 2017, 19.7 million of them faced a substance abuse problem.

Staying connected through AA (alcoholics anonymous) and NA (narcotics anonymous) meetings is critical, which is why many people, like those with ARC are pushing telehealth.

ARC has 500 people using their telehealth services.

"Now today because of technology, in theory I can be by myself and still be very connected to people so I wanna encourage people to use online resources," added Brown.

"Hang in there and reach out to people man, that's the most important thing, don't isolate by yourself and get in your head. get with somebody," Albert Kilburn added.

There are several resources for those who need it. One is ARC's intake hotline. The number for that is 606- 638-0938.

For those who want to join in online meetings for those in recovery, you can check out