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Pandemic takes toll on those fighting substance abuse: Resources to help


EL PASO, Texas -- Uncertainty and fear stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the need to shelter-in-place, can take a toll on our community. Some may not be coping in the healthiest ways.

Sales of alcoholic beverages increased 55% in the week ending March 21 compared to the year before, according to findings from market research firm Nielsen.

Dr. Fabrizzio Delgado, a psychiatrist with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, says the pandemic can lead to new challenges when it comes to fighting addictions to substances like alcohol and drugs. Dr. Delgado said the situation can be particularly tough for those battling opioid addictions, who may have previously had daily visits to clinics to receive medications.

Social distancing can also lead to isolation, which can exacerbate these challenges.

"Addiction grows in isolation so these are very complicated times for our patients," Dr. Delgado said. "Try to keep in contact with your sponsor, with your friends, with your sober support network."

Communication is the key. He points to many resources available for those with substance abuse disorders online and by phone.

"Now that we have technology, we didn't have this 100 years ago, but technology is allowing us to keep some kind of treatment through the internet," Dr. Delgado said.

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are no longer happening in-person in El Paso, but the national organization is offering meetings online. You can also call the Alcoholics Anonymous El Paso hotline 24/7 at 915-562-4081.

Narcotics Anonymous is another national organization offering online meetings and forums.

Mental health clinics throughout El Paso are also offering telemedicine support services, including Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso.

The nationwide Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helpline can help provide information on treatment options at 1-800-622-4357. If you or a loved one does not have access to a computer or internet access, call takers at the hotline can help find other treatment options available.

Article Topic Follows: Health

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Madeline Ottilie

Madeline Ottilie is a reporter on Good Morning El Paso and co-anchors ABC-7 at noon.


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