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Erie News Now: Vaccine images may be triggering for recovering addicts

Saturday, March 6th 2021, 11:25 PM EST
By Christyn Allen

Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Videos of COVID-19 vaccine being administered might be a hopeful sight for you to see. But for many, it’s a reminder of a dark time.

“Visuals can be just as powerful, if not more powerful than the written or spoken word. So, seeing the visual of a needle going into someone’s arm, I can definitely understand and empathize with how that would effect and even trigger someone battling addiction,” said Jason Kisielewski, the community affairs manager for Gaudenzia Addiction Treatment in Erie.

With pandemic restrictions, everyone is spending more time at home. This has proved harmful for some working on recovery.

According to the CDC, the United States has seen over 81,000 drug overdoses in 2020– the highest number of deaths ever recorded in a single year. The numbers suggest the pandemic is the cause.

“In addition to largest heroin and opioid epidemic that has ever ravaged, not just this area but the entire nation, our clients are also facing the coronavirus pandemic. So, they’re battling two pandemics at the same time,” said Kisielewski.

COVID-19 has only added to the stress of getting clean. “We saw an increase in stress and anxiety. A lot of times that can be something that debilitates someone’s recovery, so we did see a lot of things that were certainly detrimental,” Kisielewski.

But, it’s not all bad. Some recovering addicts may be more inclined to get vaccinated. “We’re hoping it’s something that, even though those visuals you reference could be perceived as negative by some people. It could also be a positive thing. That might be the positive step that they need, they can feel safe entering a facility once again,” said Kisielewski.

Gaudenzia says they adapt their treatment for each individual, and they understand not everyone will respond to treatment in the same way. To visit their website, click here.

If you or someone you know is battling addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association hotline at 1 (800) 662-HELP.