Struggles with recovery, mental health problems on the rise due to pandemic

Local News

(WFLA) – Life may be feeling a little more normal these days with more businesses opening and adapting to new health rules and sports are also back for fans to watch on television.

That may make it hard to remember that it’s a tough time for a lot of folks, including those battling with mental health issues and addiction.

But, there are people who want to help.

Stephen Sundquist grew up in Tampa Bay. He was a baseball star at River Ridge High School and was on his way to play at a higher level. That is, until an injury put him on an impossibly tough road.
He was prescribed pain pills that eventually led to an addiction.

“It dictated the rest of my life because I was addicted from almost the second I started taking it,” says Sundquist. “I found myself losing control.”

In recovery now for four years, Sundquist uses his experience to help others while working at Clean Recovery Centers.

“We’ve seen a lot of our good friends go out and relapse [after] having years of sobriety. It’s been challenging,” he said.

Justin Lucci works alongside Sundquist and says sadly the pandemic is causing a rise in calls for help at their offices.

“I’d say over the last 6 months we’ve stayed at 85 percent occupied,” said Lucci.

In fact, according to the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program at the University of Baltimore, opioid overdoses have spiked by about 18 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It can be easy to fall back in to old ways, when isolation is so highly recommended these days.

“The most challenge piece I’m seeing is that human interaction. When people first come into recovery, that human interaction is vital to their success,” said Sundquist.

It’s why they encourage, if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health issues, give places like their’s a call..

“We put in a rule that if we can’t help you due to clinical or financial reasons, we help that person find a place to go to,” said Lucci.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health problems, you can learn more about Clean Recovery Centers here.

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