Illinois foundation offers help to drug and alcohol addicts during the pandemic

Midwest

AURORA, Ill. (NewsNation Now) — The Gateway Foundation is helping addicts battle drug and alcohol addictions during the pandemic after experts fear the isolation and stress may cause people to relapse.

Lucy Smith is entering in a new phase of life after a 30 year addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine. She understands the struggles current addicts are having now.

“You know I lost my house. I lost my job. I lost my soul. I lost me,” said Smith. 

She said her drug dependency lead to her arrest for theft and even caused the state to take away her 18 month old son.

“By the blessing of DCFS I get to find him next year,” Smith said. “He will be 18 and I get to find him. I don’t regret it and he’s alive today and I’m not in prison today, because I would of killed him. My addiction would have taken his life and it would have taken mine.” In 2011, she entered into the Gateway Foundation’s drug rehabilitation program.

She graduated and became an Alumni Coordinator February 2020. The position allows her to help others people overcome their own addictions, thus bringing her journey full circle.

But nothing prepared her for the effects of COVID-19.

“This pandemic has taken a toll on everyone including increasing of alcohol and drugs… an isolation and depression and suicide is up. It’s scary,” said Smith.

Gateways’ CEO and President Thomas Britton said the pandemic is causing people to lose their normal coping skills.

“Really from July until now, we’ve seen a huge upsurge of people who are seeking care,” said Britton.

He said Gateway is offering virtual classes and taking more phone calls for outpatient care. However, he thinks in-patient care is truly the best way for people to recover.

“Addiction is a deadly disease. If we don’t treat it. They are going to die,” said Britton. 

The national organization has added additional safety measure to their clinics in Illinois, Delaware and California to keep patients safe. Gateway has 16 drug and alcohol treatment centers in all three states.

He says by keeping their doors open for patients, they are helping them take a vital step towards a safe and healthy life.

“We test every single person who comes into our facilities for COVID-19,” said Britton. “And we keep them in an isolation unit until they are negative. If we find out they have the virus, we move them into a Covid specific unit where they can receive treatment.”

“That’s what people need to know. They can get life after addiction. It doesn’t have to stay and it doesn’t have to be the sadness and the depression and the low self-esteem,” said Smith.

Britton said they will not turn anyone away despite having insurance or not. They even have a program for low income patients in need.

To see if you qualify and to find out more about their programs visit their website.

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