BOISE, Idaho — It's been a stressful year - with a lot of people on edge due to the constant changes in their lives.
Many people, in times of stress, turn to substance abuse as a way of coping with that added pressure. It's a problem that was around long before the pandemic but may be exacerbated by it.
For friends and family of someone struggling with substance abuse, it can be difficult to know how you can help that person.
Dr. Charles Novak, medical director at Cottonwood Creek Behavioral Hospital in Meridian, says one key is to not give up on the person.
"It's very easy to give up on people who have substance use disorders and to think that tough love or just cutting them out of their life may be helpful," Novak said. "And obviously that tough love can be helpful in certain situations but the bottom line is, unless you really empathize with them, trying to get people some access to care, the risks are quite high."
According to Novak, some substance use disorders are very difficult to break, and some, including alcohol, can be life-threatening.
"Usually [care] starts with an assessment and helping people to get off that particular substance," he said. "That's usually followed by longer-term care, which is where rehabilitative care comes into play."
Although there is less of a stigma associated with seeking help for a substance abuse problem, the stigma still exists in society.
"I think that [stigma] is lessening over time," Novak said. "In our state, in particular, there are a number of options available for people now, if they just reach out and overcome that stigma and try to get some help."
For those who are facing financial struggles in addition to addiction, there are resources available to help.
"We've got resources for people who don't have insurance and don't have money, we have resources through the state of Idaho, local charity entities," Novak said. "We have private entities, a number of them that are available that help us both with the detox side and the recovery and rehab side.
"So it really is just getting them in contact with those people within the organization still trained to try to help them work through their issues," he added.
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