U of R Medicine Mental Health and Wellness continues treating substance abuse in the era of social distancing.

“Making sure those individuals maintain overall wellness in recovery is vital,” Peer-recovery specialist Kelly Quinn said.

Quinn struggled with an opioid addiction for years after a sports injury at 17.

“I didn’t feel so anxious and I didn’t feel so depressed when I took this medication, and I was up and running, and then by the time I was 19 I started using heroin,” Quinn said.

There weren’t many recovery resources available to her at the time, but now she helps others as a peer-recovery specialist at U of R Medicine Mental Health and Wellness by leading group sessions, connecting individuals with resources and advocacy work.

“And I’m able to really morph and bend depending on the person I’m working with, and their needs,” Quinn said.

She is concerned about those she helps, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing fear, anxiety and isolation.

“The physical and social distancing we have to do really impedes the process of connecting to the larger recovery community,” Quinn said.

But that’s exactly why Director of Addiction Services Patrick Seche says the programs will continue no matter what.

Strong Recovery is now implementing telephone visits, telehealth visits using video conferencing and live streaming of self-help groups. And they are still accepting new patients, and providing medication.​

“It’s all very essential, because we don’t want an increase in overdoses, an increase of people going into withdrawal that require medical attention, because that will add to the stress of the health care system,” Seche said.

Quinn says the new methods seem to be working, and the feedback has been positive in the era of COVID-19.

“They feel like there’s this sense of normalcy in their routine and schedule, they’re able to connect to the people they’re used to connecting to and already have that rapport,” Quinn said.

Getting help starts with just a phone call to the referral team at 585-275-3161.