People struggling with addiction are turning to telehealth during the pandemic — for better and for worse

 mid the global pandemic, group gatherings have become nearly impossible. Weddings have been put on hold indefinitely, schools are turning to virtual learning and offices are encouraging employees to work from home until it's safe to be in close proximity.

Though everyone has been impacted in some way by the new restrictions put in place due to COVID-19, people struggling with addiction have had it especially hard in quarantine. Social isolation, economic despair and a global health crisis have made COVID-19 "the perform storm" for individuals with substance use disorders -- and on top of all that, normal outlets like group meetings and therapy no longer exist in the traditional sense because meeting face-to-face is now dangerous.

With nowhere else to go, people living with addiction are turning to online resources like virtual support groups and Zoom therapy until things return to normal. And because of the pandemic, there are far more online resources to leverage: According to a recent study from the University of Michigan Addiction Center, policy shifts have made it much easier for addiction care specialists to pivot to telemedicine.

For many people, this shift to telehealth has been a blessing in disguise. Busy parents and others who previously couldn't afford to take time off from work to attend meetings or shell out hundreds of dollars on private programs are now getting the help they need via Facebook groups, Zoom meetings and other resources that have popped up amid the pandemic.

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