Experts warn of high risk of substance abuse relapse during pandemic

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – In the fight against substance abuse, COVID-19 has been a mighty foe, generating feelings of loneliness, anxiety and boredom, which experts say can all easily lead to relapse.

“It was actually quite devastating, no longer being able to go to support groups and meeting in person. It was actually quite devastating to recovery,” said a woman who asked to be identified only as Suzy for confidentially reasons.

Suzy was seven months sober from alcohol addiction when the pandemic started sweeping through Florida in March.

“I was very tempted to start drinking again,” she said.

Then Suzy discovered an online platform called “Freedom 365.”

“It redirected my sobriety with a 28-day program,” she said. “I woke-up in the morning and set a goal for myself. Daily affirmations keep everything on a positive note and keep the negative stuff out of my life, which can lead you back to drinking.”

Betty Piazza with Freedom 365 said there are over 500 videos on the platform and a variety of interactive resources.

“There’s a goal setter, there’s journaling, there are meeting finders, anything you would need to start yourself into recovery,” Piazza said.

The virtual platform can be used anonymously in the privacy of your own home, making it particularly helpful to those not ready to openly admit they may have a substance abuse problem.

“So that they can start getting the help that will guide them to more help if they choose, or keep them from hitting a bottom or getting into an addictive pattern before it’s too late,” Piazza said.

While Suzy is now able to return to in-person meetings, she plans to keep utilizing the program for extra support.

“It was a game changer. It saved my life,” she said.

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