Two developments, one over the weekend and another in the works for days, clearly demonstrate the interdependence of people in Greene County and Columbia County in these pernicious times.
In Columbia County, overdoses suddenly spiked Saturday and Sunday, prompting county health officials to declare an overdose alert. The spike was centered in the northern part of the county.
Greene County officials unveiled Take 5 in NY, a program encouraging residents to take five minutes out of each day to call a friend, loved one or acquaintance who may be alone and feeling isolated in this time of social distancing. The program is promoted by the state Association of Counties.
Although the spate of overdoses — none of them fatal — was not directly linked to the quarantines brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, it bespeaks the loneliness and depression felt by people shut inside their homes, isolated from human contact, for more than three weeks.
Greener Pathways and Columbia County Pathways to Recovery are racing against the clock to combat overdoses, especially as people in active addiction tend to isolate themselves further during the COVID-19 crisis.
In a time of social distancing, especially for people in early recovery, the tendency is to isolate. People in active use or early recovery stages of addiction are among the most vulnerable.
This dovetails with Take 5. People should refrain from visiting others, especially vulnerable populations, but Greene County urges checking in with loved ones or friends by phone, email, mail, text, video chat and social media.
As we are perhaps seeing in Columbia County, social isolation can exacerbate symptoms of existing issues, including anxiety and, possibly, addiction.
Add that to disruptions in routine, the uncertainty of length and duration of the stay-home order and recommendations made about COVID-19 precautions, and loss of community support and resources, and it is vitally important to connect.
We’re not suggesting Columbia County imitate Greene County’s program. What we’re calling for is reaching out to addicts or recovering addicts coping with loneliness, fear and sadness.
Having a plan to reach out to an addict or recovering addict who is a friend or family member can help alleviate these feelings and create calm and peace. One small gesture can mean a lifeline, and maybe a life, for another.