News & Press

Cost of COVID: Addicts in recovery have hope despite isolation


MACON, Ga. — We are now approaching nine months since the emergence of COVID-19 began to affect daily life in the United States.

For those in recovery, the cost of COVID can be deadly.

Amyre Makupson with Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism spoke to addicts in recovery about why they say there is still hope.

"I would just feel that sense of emptiness and aloneness and, you know, want to do something to change the way that I felt,” said Marissa Cooling.

Cooling, an addict in recovery, says the isolation of the pandemic can make fighting substance abuse even more difficult.

“It would make me feel like… it’s okay, I could do this [and] nobody would know,” she said.

Making connections that support sobriety is even tougher now that many support groups and 12-step programs are online.

“We’re behind a screen and we’re trying to connect. A lot of people who weren’t interested in doing the Zoom or doing the virtual meetings had a little bit of difficulty,” she said.

She knows how hard it is to get clean. She’s been sober now for six years and works with newly recovering addicts.

"I believe it's possible to enter into recovery during a pandemic, I've seen people doing it this whole time,” said Cooling.

Shannon Gordon is the CEO of River Edge Behavioral Health.

"When you're tenuous in recovery, that is a real challenge, when you haven't developed a new set of sober coping skills really solidly yet,” said Gordon.

Their recovery program is considered an essential service, so it’s been running throughout the pandemic and they’ve been busy.

“Research says that overdose rates are up 40%,” said Gordon.

For those who want help, there are many different treatment options. William Barnes is the director of behavioral health operations at River Edge.

He says they are open 24/7 for individuals to come and visit them so they can figure out which services may be best for the person at that time.

Because the choices we make today will have a big impact on life after the pandemic.

“All I had to do was take it one day at a time, one minute at a time sometimes, and to just know that there is so much out there that is so much better than the life that we used to live,” said Cooling.

If you or someone you love is struggling with any kind of addiction, there is help.