The CEO of Castleisland-based addiction-treatment centre The Grove has said that more people have been taking notice of addiction within their families during the COVID-19 lock-down, while others are struggling and may have even succumbed to their addictions after many years.
The Grove's services have been limited or altered in the midst of the lock-down, Dolores Tiernan explained. She said, however, that The Grove's work is ongoing and encouraged anyone who needs help to reach.
"Everybody is struggling whether there's addiction or not," she told The Kerryman. "But there are people who have addiction in the family or didn't recognise it before because they were so busy.
"Now people aren't going to the pubs, so the drink is coming to the house. Maybe they're seeing empty bottles or seeing the behaviours, and they're struggling with that and looking for help for their loved ones.
"We are also having clients ringing under the weather or, maybe they'll say 'I went through treatment 15, 20 years ago, and I'm back using'. They're looking for extra support.'
"Are we getting more [of such cases]? We probably are, yes."
Ms Tiernan explained that The Grove has continued to provide one-to-one phone counselling, whether to "ex-clients, current clients, or clients of the future", while a number of after-care groups have continued via Zoom, which she said is working very successfully.
"But most people would prefer the one-to-one meeting in person," she said.
"Before the lock-down, we were able to say 'We'll give you an appointment, come in and see us'.
"For families, we could offer one of two different family programmes. They could learn about addiction and how it affects the family.
"Now we don't have those programmes running. In future, we hope they will return.
"We're still working with people who'd like to come in and are struggling with addiction right now, and we're giving them some kind of plan."
While there are no re-opening plans set in stone as of yet, Ms Tiernan said she is hopeful the centre can re-open shortly. She thinks it is likely, however, that COVID-19 guidelines will see services being "very restricted".
For instance, in-house AA meetings will not be possible going forward at this time, and while The Grove's 'graduation' celebration for clients and families will go ahead at some point, its set-up will be different from what's been seen in previous years.
"We do know there are many great causes out there, but we do hope the public will keep us in mind in terms of supporting us in future," she said, and explained that extending the facility to include ten extra beds is among its future ambitions.
"To anyone struggling: reach out. There is hope for you in many different forms," she added.
"I met a young man 15 years clean and sober while I was out walking. We stopped and talked, and he told me things would be so different today if he were still using. I think that sums it up."
"We are open. We're taking phone calls. We are helping. We are getting a list together. We have ex-clients who hadn't completed their programmes, and some will be returning to the Grove.
"There is hope - and recovery is worth it."