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Women struggling with addiction during COVID-19, many seeking treatment for alcoholism

Melisa Cole 2.jpg
Posted at 6:35 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 22:27:51-04

INDIANAPOLIS — May is Women’s Health Month, and something they’ve noticed at Community Fairbanks Recovery Center is how the pandemic is driving more women to drink.

Local experts said alcohol has been the drug of choice for women struggling during COVID-19, and making connections is a huge part of recovery for people who struggle with addiction.

“Be around other people, don’t isolate, get out, meet others, be vulnerable,” Melisa Cole, who is a recovering addict said. “All these big themes that are crucial to staying sober are suddenly gone.”

That ended for many people during the pandemic. Many women, according to the Community Fairbanks Recovery Center, are finding themselves turning to alcohol to cope. Melisa Cole understands. She’s been in recovery for five years now and struggled with addiction for 20 years.

“Women are considered the caregivers,” Cole explained. “That’s a big issue for women in recovery anyways. That’s a big barrier sometimes to recovery. And suddenly you’re at home, the kids are at home all day, they are school age children, now they’re doing e-learning, maybe they used to go to daycare and now they’re at home. That’s overwhelming.”

“Especially with alcohol, it’s so everywhere and it doesn’t have quite the stigma that street drugs have and so we can justify that and validate ourselves and just have a drink a glass of wine. But I think that sends us on a slippery slope,” Greta Compton, a behavioral health specialist said.

Compton explained that addiction is different for women who often put off getting help.

“And before you know it it’s three bottles of wine a night and your kids are seeing you passed out on the couch, you are having arguments with your partner and not able to make it to work the next day,” Compton added.

After denying she had a problem herself for years, Cole said, "There are sober people living really amazing lives. The life I have today is something I never thought possible.”

Now, she's a life skills clinician, with a beautiful family.

“I have a two-year-old and she’s never going to experience her mom being drunk,” Cole said. “She’s never going to experience any of that chaos and it is a really beautiful incredible life that is out there. It exists.”

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