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Coronavirus pandemic weighs heavily on new and recovering addicts

Liquor sales have spiked as new and recovering addicts deal with isolation and boredom caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Dr. Hunter Kennedy, director of Footprints to Recovery Addiction Treatment Centers, said two months ago they were anticipating the COVID-19 pandemic would weigh heavily on people dealing with addiction and recovery, and they were expecting to see the number of people seeking help increase.

Dr. Kennedy confirmed that is exactly what has happened. He says a spike in liquor sales during the pandemic has increased the number of people struggling.

"We are seeing people are starting to drink earlier and earlier in the day and that is the onset of addiction when your body develops that tolerance and then you go to quit and you realize its not that easy because your body is screaming for it," Dr. Kennedy said.

Being forced to work from home has opened the door for isolation and boredom, which are key ingredients in a recipe for addiction.

"Addictions best friend is boredom and isolation and when people are at home and they are fearful, and they are worried and don’t have a job or responsibilities. When they go back to work, they are going to find that they are relying on a substance," Dr. Kennedy said.

The problem is not only with new addicts, but recovering addicts as well.

"What I hear is. 'I was doing great and I let my guard down and stopped working my program and I let myself have one.' That’s what takes people down the drain, that first one. And then there’s a another and that’s what starts back the addiction," Dr. Kennedy said.

Addiction and recovery has gotten media attention in the last week after Melissa Ethridge’s son Beckett Cypher was found dead in his Denver. She said in a tweet that he battled an opioid addiction.

RELATED: Melissa Etheridge's son Beckett Cypher dead in Denver at 21

"What they do not understand is addiction is a very creepy and sneaky disease. This is a very scary time with the pandemic and the escalation of drug and alcohol abuse that is going on across the country as we speak, and this is something that is going to change the lives of everyone," Dr. Kennedy said.

Dr. Kennedy says this is a conversation that needs to be had daily and not only when it’s a headline.

The key to recovery is a sober network and people you can reach out to.

"People are in denial dealing with addiction thinking they have control of the substance and not realizing the substance has control of them."

There are some small meetings where people can meet under city and state guidelines. Many meeting groups have gone virtual and recovery centers have gone to telehealth. 

Dr. Kennedy wants people to know there are resources out there and you can find people to talk to on footprintstorecovert.com, or you can call (303) 519-0372.

RELATED: Gardner’s national 9-8-8 suicide hotline bill passes Senate

RELATED: COVID-19 means trying times for people in recovery from alcohol, drug addiction

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