Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Drug-Related Deaths are Rising in Maricopa County

There’s a renewed concern for people battling addiction amid COVID-19. Experts said some social distancing guidelines contradict what counselors tell recovering addicts.

“We knew it was going to be hurting people early on,” said Calvary Healing Center’s CEO, Ramsen Kasha. “Addiction is a disease that thrives off isolation and secrecy, and when we talk about recovery, it’s often done in a group format, whether that’s treatment groups of 12 step groups because that connection is a part of healing.”

Kasha said the pandemic is not only causing relapses but deadly overdoses. In part, because users are picking up where they left off with high doses even though their tolerance decreased from recent sobriety. The proof is in preliminary data from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office, which shows drug-related deaths skyrocketing in the past two months. The state’s top doctor, Cara Christ was asked about the rise in deaths in a recent press conference.

“Could some of that be associated with isolation and loneliness? That was something we were worried about,” said Dr. Christ.

Kasha said fewer people are coming into his facility even though addiction is ramping up. He said there is something you can do if you know someone who’s battling an addiction.

“So we need to be brave enough and be willing to have our loved one not be happy with us and actually call out any changes of behavior,” said Kasha.

And if you’re battling addiction right now, Kasha said, don’t wait until the pandemic is over to get help. He said there are virtual programs out there, and his facility is taking people in person while still following CDC guidelines.

“There is so much support still out there, so much help still out there, and so much hope still out there,” said Kasha.

If you know someone who is battling addiction, you can reach Calvary Healing Center at 602-279-1468.


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