Officials encourage struggling addicts to not hesitate seeking support during COVID-19 pandemic

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – As the coronavirus pandemic continues, officials want those struggling with addiction to know there are still resources out there.

The pandemic is not changing where those struggling locally with addiction can get treatment.

“There are the five organizations that provide medicated-assisted treatment,” Alliance to Heal coordinator Al Bliss said. “So there’s Addiction Medical Solutions, CleanSlate, both healthcare systems and again the county.”

But what it is changing is how they receive counseling.

“We most recently applied with several different agencies to help with some additional peer recovery coaches,” Bliss said. “I would encourage individuals who can still do the counseling whether it’s by Skype or by phone call or conferencing to continue to do that.”

Bliss says some people currently in recovery are struggling mentally and missing appointments.

“People should definitely not be skipping appointments that they do have,” Bliss said. “And that they are having people who are relapsing.”

He also says there’s been a sudden surge in overdose deaths in La Crosse County this year, but it’s unclear whether or not it’s related to the pandemic.

“I had asked our medical examiner to see how we are with the drug overdose deaths this year and we are at 10,” Bliss said. “Last year, we were at 22.”

2-1-1 call centers have also seen a drop in calls from those in recovery.

“The month of March, those types of calls went down, some,” Great Rivers 2-1-1 director Mary Mundt Reckase said.

She says do not hesitate to reach out for support.

“We’re there to talk, and help identify how we can help,” Reckase said.

If more people get help, it could save more lives.

“It’s really important that people who might be listening and having these issues feel that there’s still help for this,” Reckase said.

Great Rivers 2-1-1 is available to take phone calls 24 hours a day.

They offer services throughout 21 counties in western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa.