BETHLEHEM, Pa. (WLVT) - Addiction recovery programs across Pennsylvania continue to offer services during the coronavirus crisis.
While health care providers are offering telehealth video calls with physicians, sobriety programs are hosting meetings and counseling sessions virtually.
Some recovery centers in the Lehigh Valley are offering around-the-clock support and virtual meeting options. Northampton County Drug and Alcohol has organized virtual sobriety meetings through both of its recovery centers: Change On Third Street in Easton and Change On Main in Northampton.
Brian Sabo is the program director of both centers. He says in the past, both locations have offered over a dozen in-person sobriety meetings each week. Now, they're hosting an average of 50 virtual meetings per week.
''We’re acting as a hub to help people find what they need,'' said Sabo. ''We’re taking telephone calls and working through social media. We’re coordinating all of the virtual meetings. We’re doing all virtual meetings through the Zoom app. If people want to call me here I can lend an ear and a little bit of hope.''
Sabo says treatment centers in the region are still accepting new clients. Special admission protocols may be in place, he says, in order to prevent community spread of COVID-19.
Rhonda Miller is a certified family recovery specialist who manages Oasis Community Center in Bethlehem, which provides support and resources to the family and friends of people struggling with addiction. She says it’s critical for people in recovery to stay connected while following stay-at-home orders.
''It’s unfortunate because it is dangerous,'' said Miller, ''but I would encourage those people to get online and utilize the resources that are out there. There’s a lot of anxiety and families feel it. Their loved ones are struggling when they can’t connect with their personal support groups face-to-face. In the recovery community, emotional support is critical. Getting that hug, sitting in a group meeting, it’s so important.''
Miller's group is also offering virtual support meetings during the stay-at-home orders.
The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol is encouraging people suffering from substance abuse disorder to call its 24-hour hotline (see below) and to check out its list of online recovery meetings that include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other groups. Click hereto view the list.
A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year hotline staffed by trained professionals who will stay on the phone with the caller until a treatment provider with an opening is identified. In addition to the hotline, text (717-216-0905) chat options are available.
Family and friends of those struggling with addiction can attend support meetings online via Oasis Community Center.