Battling addiction even tougher during the coronavirus pandemic

Thoughts of isolation and loneliness will forever be associated with COVID-19, but for for people with drug and alcohol addictions, those feelings can put their life at risk.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The images of thousands of people gathering in protest over the last week are in stark contrast to how we identified the previous few months.

Thoughts of isolation and loneliness will forever be associated with COVID-19, but for for people with drug and alcohol addictions, those feelings can put their life at risk.

Cary Quashen, founder of Action Drug Rehabs in Santa Clarita, says before the pandemic, we were in the midst of a drug abuse epidemic.

"I used to say get clean or sober, get clean or not... Now it's get clean or die. Because the drugs out there right now are killing people," Quashen says.

Traditional drug rehab programs are still available, but restrictions in place due to COVID-19 have forced Quashen's industry to get creative, while also opening up opportunities.

"I've been wanting to do outpatient drug counseling on the internet for many years," Quashen says.

So like many of his peers, he is using more Zoom meetings than he did pre-pandemic.

For some people, like Devin Marshall, that works well. But Devin adds, recovery is still an individual responsibility. "You gotta just really want to be clean and sober."

Devin started using drugs at a young age and tried to get clean and sober many times. He just celebrated a year of sobriety.

He did that during the coronavirus crisis and the online help he found out of necessity, provided some added benefits.

"You could be in Australia and on Zoom and be in a meeting with them there. And you get to see the different aspects of the program in different countries, which is really interesting."

Experts stress recovery can't happen alone; it happens in a community.

Most people will continue wanting the intimacy of in-person meetings and it is very important to note, the pandemic is likely going to make drug addiction worse.

But in a field were success is measured one day at a time, remote options for rehab are proving to be part of the solution according to Quashen.

"We do have people that won't go out of their house... that are maybe isolated in a town where there really isn't outpatient or residentials, so Zoom has helped open the door to that."
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