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COVID-19: Calls for Help with Substance Abuse Rise after Steep Drop

UnityPoint Health Trinity

People who struggle with substance abuse face a higher risk from COVID-19 and other diseases.

And Jay Pearce reports during the recent lockdown, the number of people asking for help fell dramatically. 


Mary Petersen is the Director of Behavioral Health Services for the Robert Young Center at Unity Point Health Trinity. In March, she says all in-person meetings and appointments had to be cancelled. 

"We tried phone appointments, but it wasn't met with much success." She says the pandemic is likely to increase stress, fear, anxiety, and social isolation. And those things can trigger a relapse into substance abuse. So, it's very important for family and friends to stay in touch. 

In April, the Robert Young Center began offering virtual group meetings for those with substance abuse. Petersen says it's been helpful but is no substitute for face-to-face relationships. 

"In mid-March, there was an immediate drop in individuals seeking treatment via the emergency department and outpatient clinic visits on both sides of the river. Overall patient volume decrease by 70% at the end of March through the end of May." Now, Petersen says the number of calls is starting to increase again. 

The Robert Young Center (563.322.2667), Center for Alcohol and Drug Services, and other organizations are encouraging people who need help to call . Information about addiction recovery services is available HERE.

Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor which really just means she wears many hats, doing everything there is to do in the newsroom and around the radio station. She's a multimedia journalist and serves as Assignment Editor, reporter, radio news producer, copy editor, announcer, news anchor/host, and photographer. She also writes and produces content for WVIK.org and social media and trains interns.
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