Alcohol purchases have spiked across the U.S. as the coronavirus pandemic has worsened, prompting growing concern from medical experts about excessive alcohol and drug use during the crisis.
Leaders at UCHealth’s treatment facility, the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Recovery or CeDAR, had to temporarily stop accepting new patients at the center’s detox facilities and inpatient programs in mid-March to protect patients and staff from the increasing spread of COVID-19.
CeDar is open – How to get help for addiction
Click here to learn about help that is available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Click here to learn about online meetings.
Community Recovery Meetings – Open to the public
Regular community meetings have gone online to help people stay connected to recovery. You do not need to have been a previous patient at CeDAR. Click here to learn more.
CeDar offers Online Peer Coaching
- Coaching available either by phone or online.
- Open to everyone. You do not have to be a former or current patient of CeDAR to participate.
- First session is free. Individual sessions: $50. Package discounts for additional sessions.
CeDAR Certified Peer Coaches:
Pam Isenhower – 720-848-8839
Kelly Martin – 720-848-2997
CeDAR Alumni Check-In – Those who have participated in inpatient and outpatient treatment programs at CeDAR can reach out to Alumni Coordinator, Meghan White, for virtual check-ins. Check-ins provide a structured recovery connection during difficult times.
Meghan White – 720-281-1605
Family Members of current and former CeDAR patients can get help through the Family Services programs. Addiction affects everyone. Our Family Services program offers the opportunity to discuss struggles with our Family Educator, Blair Thurston.
Blair Thurston – 720-848-3070
But, substance use experts became so alarmed over potential impacts to patients coping with substance use that they recently went to extraordinary efforts to reopen CeDAR. Now, the center is once again able to accept patients for detox programs as well as inpatient care, medication-assisted treatments, virtual care and online support groups.
“We felt it was critical to reopen. People are at high risk of dying of addictive illnesses, particularly during this COVID situation. Being socially isolated at home is a huge risk for dying. So, we just worked as hard as we could to make our services available, while also maintaining staff and patient safety,” said Dr. Christian Hopfer, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and CeDAR’s Medical Director.
Within the residential unit, staff and patients are taking precautions to stay safe including practicing physical distancing, also known as social distancing.
In addition, any patients or staff members with symptoms of COVID-19, like a fever, cough or shortness of breath, is being tested for infections.
“Detox services are considered critical, so we’re focused on making them available,” Hopfer said.
Suddenly stopping drinking or halting drug use can be very dangerous, he said. The detox facility allows patients to safely stop using alcohol and drugs. Withdrawing from alcohol or opioids can take two to five days and easing off of other drugs can take anywhere from a couple of days to a month.
Some patients come in for detox on their own, while others suffer a medical crisis or run into legal problems, spurring them to seek help.
“Typically it’s the patient’s choice to come to detox, but it might be precipitated by a medical event, like liver failure,” Hopfer said.
He said people who have substance use disorders are clearly under duress as the pandemic worsens. The forced isolation, job losses and economic challenges that have come with the COVID-19 crisis all are likely to make things more challenging for people already coping with excessive use of alcohol and drugs.
Plenty of celebrities and regular folks have shared stories of getting through stay-at-home orders by enjoying plenty of cocktails or indulging in virtual happy hours.
Hopfer said people who feel they are drinking excessively should seek help.
“Anything that exceeds the recommended dose of one drink a day for a woman and two drinks a day for a man is really getting into dangerous territory, and it can quickly escalate into a life-threatening situation,” Hopfer said.
He said that the panic buying that erupted in Denver when the mayor temporarily said that liquor stores and marijuana shops would shut under his stay-at-home order illustrated how dependent many people are on alcohol and drugs during the crisis.
“A lot of people are at risk for drinking excessively in their homes,” Hopfer said.
Others may try to stop drinking on their own and could have problems.
“If they’re having any kinds of symptoms of withdrawal, such as feeling shaky, they should probably call us or their primary care doctor to get some advice about whether they should come in for a medically-supervised detox,” Hopfer said.
Even people who have recently stopped drinking or using drugs are at risk for relapse.
Hopfer said that, on average, it can take people six to seven attempts at getting treatment to permanently stop drinking or using drugs.