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(INDIANAPOLIS) — The pandemic has worsened substance-abuse problems for many addicts. But

it’s also had unexpected benefits for treatment.

Many drug and alcohol counselors have moved their sessions to Zoom or other online platforms. So

have 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Drug and alcohol counselor Scott Watson with

Heartland Intervention in Indianapolis says a lot of participants like the fact they’re able to find a

meeting 24-7, and can attend without leaving home.

Heartland has moved taken its counseling sessions virtual. Watson says counselors do sacrifice

something by not having face-to-face contact, and some 12-step participants miss the mingling over

coffee which might come after meetings. He says the move to cyberspace has been tougher on

people new to treatment, who find themselves on Zoom in a group of people they don’t know.

But Watson says many people who have been in a program for a while have said they want to keep

the flexibility and convenience even when the pandemic’s over.

Watson says the pandemic has fed an increase in relapses among substance abusers, who fall

back on drugs and alcohol out of stress — or boredom.