NAPLES, Fla. — In Southwest Florida, addiction treatment centers, like Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Naples say this past year taught them a lot about how to treat addiction.
Overdose deaths spiked nearly 30% in 2020 to a record 93,000 according to statistics released July 14 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s the largest single-year increase recorded.
Heather Hayes, who manages outpatient services at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation says the increase has a lot to do with people being pushed into isolation to stay healthy over the past year.
“The pandemic brought so many people into isolation and isolation is the big enemy of recovery...and so some people may have even overdosed without having people around them that might have intervened,” said Hayes.
Hayes says the foundation was able to quickly switch
to virtual services during the pandemic instead of having to close down.
At first, Hayes told Fox 4, they were unsure if they could have the same impact through a computer screen, as they do in-person.
What they found out is now shaping how they will treat people moving forward.
“People feel a little safer in their living room accessing treatment. They are more comfortable they don't have to make that commitment to get in the car and find this place and walk through the door all of that is set aside and so we see that people are a whole lot more comfortable in virtual services,” said Hayes.
Hayes says moving to a virtual world, and using features like Zoom, helped them not only connect with patients but also allow them to treat people across the state, something they didn't
do very often in the past.
Hayes tells us over the past two months, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation has seen an increase in people seeking treatment.
Hayes thinks part of the reason could be from relaxed COVID guidelines.
She says as the country starts to do away with some of the COVID restrictions, virtual treatment won't be tossed aside.
"Virtual allows us to reach more people and then there is a segment of the population that really wants that in-person connection. So the fact that we can now offer both is really terrific,” said Hayes.
Hayes says they hope to have a plan in place for in-person treatment within the next couple of months.