(MONET) – COVID 19-related limits have made many Missourians feel like they are locked up at home. Getting out and staying active serves as a starting point for people, especially those who fight drug and alcohol addiction. Mark Stringer, director of the Mental Health Department in Missouri, expects an increase in the number of people who abuse these substances and face anxiety and depression. He says that some of the consequences of the corona virus can be too much for some people to cope with.
"Like people who lose their jobs, have debts and are worried about their loved ones, such things can really push people over the edge and either lead to behaviors that lead to problems later or earlier, or to some kind mental illness. He says.
According to Stringer, providers in Missouri continue to work with addicts, although some traditional group meetings and programs are not available during the health crisis.
"They do it over the phone, via telemedicine. For example, they create virtual groups – they only have minimal telephone contact with the people they serve. There are some pretty good online information sources for the general public. The Alcoholics website Anonymous has a lot of resources, "says Stringer.
Mark Stringer (photo courtesy of the Missouri Mental Health Department)
Missouri has four Recovery Community Centers – two in St. Louis, one in Kansas City and one in Springfield. They are a peer-based supportive community for people with opiate use disorders. While they may not be physically open or have very limited hours of use, they are also retooling in the face of physical distance management. These centers offer recovery services over the phone and use online zoom conferencing or other online tools to access local and national support.
Some hope to reopen to a limited extent as more personal protective equipment becomes available and will follow all CDC protection and prevention guidelines. Some of these centers continue to provide access to free naloxone – the means to reverse opioid overdose.
According to Stringer, the number of calls via the state hotline for general behavioral crises has increased by 15 to 20% around the clock. The Access Crisis Intervention hotline, operated by the state community mental health centers, receives approximately 70,000 calls a year.
"Many of them were people who received mental health or drug abuse services and were concerned that their services would continue and be able to get the medication and the like they needed," he says. "But then there were also a lot of new callers, people who were not in our system and who, due to the situation we are in, only had a lot of stress and related problems."
The ACI line offers options to support online recovery: "In the Spaces – Global Recovery Communities", "Weconnect and Unity Recovery" and "Smart Recovery".
The Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare offers a mobile app called MyStrength.
Compass Health Network, a behavioral health organization with locations from west to east Missouri, has also established a dedicated emergency disaster hotline. If immediate access to services is required, individuals can call (888) 237-4567 or visit http://compasshealthnetwork.org for more information.
The department’s website also provides various online support options for the general public. Click here for additional resources recommended by the department.