BAKERSFIELD, Cali — The month of September is National Recovery Month, where health officials increase awareness and understanding of substance use disorders. With the pandemic, it may be difficult for some people to actually find the help that they need.
23ABC spoke with health officials about resources that are available in Kern County that can help those who are struggling with addiction all while staying safe in light of COVID-19.
According to Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, 10 - 14% of people in the united states have some sort of substance abuse disorder, but of those, only 10% actually reach out for help.
“Treatment is all about the person and their willingness to take the first steps," Ana Olvera, Substance Use Disorder Division Administrator, Kern Behavioral Health, explained."In order to encourage someone to take the first step, it is important to express care and concern.”
According to Kern BHRS, Kern County has seen an increase in overdoses since 2016 due to the Opioid crisis, and with social distancing it adds to the risk of overdose, as people who use drugs or alcohol alone are less likely to receive help in the event of an overdose.
“It has been challenging, a lot of the treatment that we do for substance abuse, is based on a group and right now we can’t have a group of 10 people because it’s not safe,” Olvera said.
But, that doesn’t mean services aren’t available. Behavior Health has implemented individual in-person help as well as an access call line that people can use if they are unable to come in person.
Workit Health, a digital addiction care clinic, has a location here in Bakersfield and allows people to get counseling as well as attend group meetings through their phones and computers.
“Historically its been a much more serious commitment to get help for an addiction you have to stop your life and go to a treatment center sometimes a state away or at least a few hours away from your home and this brings it home to you,” Lisa McLaughlin, Co-founder of Workit Health.
McLaughlin had struggled with addiction early in her life and believes that Tele-health services can be beneficial for people who are struggling with addiction, especially during the pandemic.
“In COVID times people are really starting to trust Tele-health services more than they ever had before because they see the benefits and they see that there is a reduced risk to them not exposing themselves to hospital settings where there might be high-risk patients that are coming in that are being treated for COVID,” McLaughlin said.
Both Kern Behavioral Health and Workit Health want people to know that resources are available to them, no matter where they are located.
“There is this dual epidemic on top of the epidemic that we are facing in terms of COVID which is the drug addiction, there are a lot of amazing services now that meet people where they are and its so much easier to get started," McLaughlin said.