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The Multiple Epidemics of 2020

By December 22, 2020News
The US is batting multiple epidemics – COVID19 and the epidemics of substance use disorder and mental health – both on the rise since the start of the pandemic. As a country, America is facing the potential for catastrophic damage to those not only in substance use recovery but those who are using substances to cope with mental health issues. The Hansen Foundation remains focused on our mission of helping those in substance use recovery. We continue to provide affordable, long-term safe recovery residences, access to treatment, community programs, and the tools needed to lead healthy productive lives for people in recovery. 
Stress among Americans has skyrocketed during the Pandemic. COVID-19 has resulted in increased reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder since May 2020 by over 25% compared to the same time period in 2019.  A recent study by the CDC found that 13.3% of adults reported new or increased substance use as a way to manage stress due to the coronavirus and 10.7% of adults reported thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days. There is no question COVID-19 is escalating substance use, creating roadblocks for those in recovery and therefore, increasing the epidemic of addiction.
• Online sales for alcohol increased 243% since states started to quarantine in March. 
• Spirit sales have increased by 75%, beer sales by 66% and wine sales by 42 % compared to the same time period in 2019.
• With the reduction in exports and new travel restrictions, drug cartels are being stymied by reductions in substance supply leading to the use of synthetic or varied potency in drugs leading to overdoses.
• Experts are also concerned that users of illegal drugs could be stockpiling drugs leading to riskier behavior resulting in overdoses and death.
• Reduced recovery support meetings and structure during this time can create feelings of isolation and emotional stress for those in
recovery. Relapse, overdose and death are right around the corner.
COVID-19 has presented many challenges for The Hansen Foundation residents. Almost all of our residents were out of work or continue to struggle finding long-term consistent employment.  Some residents did not qualify for government subsidies or unemployment. Social distancing has significantly reduced recovery meetings and some recoverees struggle with online meetings. Reduced recovery support and structure can create feelings of isolation and emotional stress for those in recovery. These feelings can be triggers for relapse as well as for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. 
In a paralyzing, fearful time for many residents, our team of staff members continues to provide mental and emotional support to residents while teaching that hardship can be navigated with determination, commitment to recovery and finding joy in moments of crisis. To help our residents continue on their path to recovery during COVID-19, The Hansen Foundation’s team is:
• Bringing 12-step and Refuge Recovery meetings to recovery houses to maintain recovery programs.
• Giving support to residents with quarantine house events to create a level of social connectedness.
• Providing food accompanied by healthy recipes and cooking instruction. For some residents, food money is non-existent at this time, so supplemental meals are appreciated.
• Working with clients on flexible payment arrangements knowing we will have to absorb the shortfall.
• Providing an opportunity for individuals to regain employment with stable income through job skill training through a variety of programs for those new in recovery and in sober living.
• Recovery Construction – A progressive and individualized program of construction related skill acquisition. Participants learn accountability, teamwork, as well as skill acquisition in focused construction areas and project management. Individuals develop personal interests in the construction field; eventually moving on to full time work within a specialized trade including union placement.
• Solid Roots Employment Program- Enlightened Farm: A transitional employment and mentorship program for individuals new in recovery to gain hands-on experience at Enlightened Farm. Participants learn fellowship, job training, and skills in environmental stewardship while in
sober living.
• Enlightened Café – A job training program focused on developing food preparation and hospitality-based skills.  Participants learn food preparation and safety, cooking and restaurant operations as well as customer service,
problem-solving, communication, organizational and
teamwork skills. 

We know that the commitment of the United States and the international medical and pharmaceutical companies will lead to a resolution to the COVID-19 pandemic. What we don’t know is how many lives will be altered and lost by substance use disorder when that resolution comes. 
Through support in the past, we have provided Resident Scholarships and supplemental needs for our life-saving endeavors…through our Recovery Residences, Enlightened Farm and Enlightened Café.  The mission of The Hansen Foundation is a personal one for our family and thus, we remain committed to helping others during this unprecedented time as well as today, tomorrow and beyond.

The Hansen Foundation, Inc.
4 E. Jimmie Leeds Road
Galloway, NJ 08205
Phone: 609.270.4443

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