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Eagles Nest expands as overdose deaths soar

Eagles Nest expands as overdose deaths soar

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Floyd’s Eagles Nest Regeneration, a faith-based substance use rehabilitation facility for men, expanded its outreach program in October after receiving licensure that allowed the facility to add an additional 20 beds. ENR now has a total of 43 beds and hopes to reach a total of 75 within the next three years, according to Director of Outreach Will Curtis.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Curtis said, the recovery process has become increasingly challenging as weekend visitation is only offered virtually and “will be until further notice.”

Additional expansions have been made in ENR’s transition program, which follows treatment completion, and in the Leadership Training Program, which currently consists of eight men training to become certified peer recovery specialists.

“These expansions mean we are able to help more men and their families. Our training center continues to grow with opportunities for individuals from the NRV to be trained as peer support specialists,” Curtis said.

ENR also requires each man in its program to participate in occupational training “where they will learn a job-specific skill set,” according to the facility’s website.

“During occupational training activities, participants will learn how to face and cope with emotional and relational problems and issues similar to those that they will encounter in daily living, after graduating the program,” ERN states.

To protect the staff and community members, Curtis said, “new clients are accepted into the program and then quarantined until they receive a negative COVID-19 test,” and men coming from detox must test negative before being accepted as well. He added that the facility is using “a separate house (as its) quarantine house.”

“Recovery can be complicated by stressful times … in-person support groups and treatment beds are limited because of COVID-19 protocols. The access to medication-assisted therapies has also been impacted by the pandemic, (and as a result of these) we are seeing increases in overdoses and suicide-related deaths,” Curtis said.

“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield in a press release on Dec. 17. “As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it’s important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways. We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences.”

Between May 2019 and May 2020, there were more than 81,000 overdose deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC, and “while overdose deaths were already increasing in the months preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest numbers suggest an acceleration of overdose deaths during the pandemic.”

Overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased more than 38 percent during the same time period, deaths involving cocaine increased by 26.5 percent and deaths involving psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine, increased by nearly 35 percent, according to the CDC.

Jason Cox, a coordinator and lead certified peer recovery specialist for Substance Abuse and Recovery Alliance of Virginia, said that the COVID-19 pandemic “kind of exploited some of the weaknesses (of SAARA programs) and allowed community members to connect on a different level.”

SAARA of Virginia is a Richmond-based organization that strives to “transform Virginia communities through hope, education, and advocacy for addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery,” according to its website.

“There could be a treatment center on every block, but it wouldn’t matter until someone is ready (for) a deep personal commitment (to sobriety),” Cox said. “For those that are really ready to give up that way of life, there are plenty of resources out there, even during the pandemic.”

He added that overdose-related deaths are “dramatically higher” since the beginning of the pandemic. A meeting with Chesterfield County law enforcement, which took place within the past four months, revealed that 100 percent of recently seized street drugs contained fentanyl.

According to an online article by Peter Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School, “For someone struggling with addiction, virtually all of the services and treatments available to them have been disrupted by the COVID-19 (pandemic). People are told to stay home, which directly contradicts the need to go to clinics to obtain methadone or other medications for treating addiction.”

To learn more about local recovery communities and resources, contact Eagles Nest Regeneration at 540-745-4001 or New River Valley Community Services at 540-745-2047. Learn more about the Appalachian Substance Abuse Coalition, another resource for those struggling with addiction or substance abuse, at stopsubstanceabuse.com.

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