GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – During the pandemic many people have been dealing with anxiety and stress. But some have not been coping with it very well. Area addiction treatment centers have seen a huge spike in calls and referrals.
At the Jackie Nitschke Center in Green Bay the staff knows well the impact of the pandemic.
“Our calls here have increased tremendously over the last few months,” said Michelle Pierquet-Hohner from the Jackie Nitschke Center.
As more and more people reach out to find help for a growing addiction to alcohol and other drugs.
“Social isolation, being alone, being worried about the pandemic, people are coping in not so healthy ways,” said Pierquet-Hohner.
The CDC says 13% of Americans started or increased substance abuse to cope with the pandemic. Wisconsin DHS reports heavy drinking among women increased 41% over the past year and the state ranks second in the U.S. for adult binge drinking.
“That’s frightening, that’s frightening,” said Pierquet-Hohner.
But experts say the addicted can find help through various treatment programs offered in the community. They just need to be brave and take that first step.
“Anyone can call us and say I think I may be drinking too much, can I talk to someone,” said Addiction Counselor Joelle Hesse from Libertas Treatment Center.
Hesse works at Libertas, which too has seen an increase in demand for its services. She says those in trouble need the support of family and friends.
“Just letting them know they have healthy supporters and they have people who are willing to listen and really maybe, help them get the help that they need,” Hesse said.
“There are ways to get help, there are ways to get treatment and other ways to enjoy your life without alcohol,” said Pierquet-Hohner.
Ways to come out on the other side of this pandemic, out of the isolation and addictive behaviors it helped fuel.
“The key right now is to reach out for help before the problem gets bigger,” said Pierquet-Hohner.
Wisconsinites between the ages of 18 and 24 had the highest proportion of binge drinkers.