BOISE, Idaho — Many Idahoans are reporting feelings of depression and isolation this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for people living with addiction, that can result in relapse.
The PEER Wellness Center in Boise has increased sanitation and safety protocols in place to help prevent the spread. The organization is in a new location within walking distance from the Pathways Community Crisis Center, making it easier to help connect people with resources they need when they need it most.
"We have people walking back and forth as we collaborate with them, which really improves the continuum of care for people," said Monica Forbes, CEO of Recovery United, INC. "A lot less chance for people to fall in a crack between agencies."
Large conference rooms help make social distancing possible for in-person peer support groups, but for those who need or want to stay at home, it's easy to stay involved.
"People don't have to come in necessarily to attend in person. We have big screen TVs with webcams and somebody can sit at home or on their lunch break on their phone and still participate in that group," said Forbes.
At a national level, statistics show an increase in suicide and accidental drug overdoses amid the pandemic. On a local level, Forbes is seeing a rise in relapses.
"What we're seeing are people who probably were doing really good, they have five years, seven years in recovery and they experience a relapse," said Forbes. "We're seeing a significant increase in those. And our ability to sit down in that non-judgemental, supportive way, you know, 'I'm not judging, what can we do to help you get back on track?' That's what we're trying to do."
The group is also teaming up with the Idaho Harm reduction Product and the Office of Drug Policy to provide Narcan kits to anyone who wants one, in the event of an opioid drug overdose.
"You don't have to fill out a form or do anything, just say you want it."
And in these times, we could all use a little compassion. The PEER Wellness Center is stepping up to set an example.
"We're all just doing the best we can right now, but we're here for you, and we don't want you to struggle alone," said Forbes.