CHICAGO (CBS) — At any given time, experts say at least 15% of Chicago area residents are struggling with some type of addiction. Staying sober can be a lot more challenging during the COVID-19 crisis.
Ron Moore wishes he could go to a meeting for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.
“It actually seems like some of the meetings I attend are not held because of what’s going on,” he said of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ban of meetings of 10 or more people.
That has prevented Moore from attending two to four recovery meetings he has come to depend on during 11 years of sobriety. And last week the 54-year-old almost gave in to his cravings.
“I actually wanted to take a drink of beer,” he said. “One sip.”
He almost went to the store, but he realized what that would mean.
“That’s insanity,” he said.
It’s insane because years of addiction to crack and alcohol left him near death multiple times over a 20-year period, he said.
But then he he went to his first meeting for recovering addicts.
“They save my life on a daily basis,” Ron said.
Dr. Helena Radomska is a psychiatrist specializing in addiction. She says the enforced isolation of COVID-19 makes it especially difficult for people involved in 12 step programs.
“It’s crucial for their sobriety. Their support stems from there,” she said.
Dr. Radomska recommends 90 meetings in the first 90 days for some of her patients. She says the virtual meetings that are being offered just aren’t an option for Ron and many of the most vulnerable.
“Many people who are addicts, they don’t have computers at home. They don’t have Internet access,” she said.
To fight the urge to use, Radomska says recovering addicts should structure their days and reach out if need be to other members of 12 step groups.
Moore said without these programs he would “absolutely not” be alive.
Radomska says recovery groups do save lives. With fewer recovery meetings happening, she says she’s had to admit more patients to hospitals in recent days after they became unable to cope with their addictions alone during the time of COVID-19.
Here are some resources to help if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction:
The City of Chicago also has a list of free mental health resources available to city residents.