WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Parolees and other prison inmates re-entering society have major obstacles and temptations to overcome, one of the biggest is a return to the drug or alcohol addiction that got many of them behind bars in the first place. However, due to COVID-19, access to support programs has changed drastically but is still there to help.
Being cooped up in the house for long periods is enough to make just about anybody stir crazy and for those coming out of prison and finding themselves in isolation again, while also suffering from mental illness or still recovering from drug addiction. Counselors with Substance Abuse Guidance and Education have adapted to the change to make sure the former inmates have access to the support they need.
Drug addiction is no laughing matter, in fact, last year alone nearly 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Now imagine being released from prison and fighting temptation every day, that’s where SAGE comes in.
“We’re contracted through the Texas Department of Criminal Justice System, and we get clients directly from prison and they come here for their aftercare,” Snyder said.
Terrie Snyder is a counseling intern at S.A.G.E. and said after-care is crucial for clients struggling with drug abuse.
“Not only do we do group counseling, but we also do one on one sessions. Were here for substance abuse counseling mainly but also we’re here just to lend a friendly ear and maybe give them advice doing life on life’s terms,” Snyder said.
However, with the COVID crisis, Snyder and other counselors said they are having to find innovative ways to stay in touch with their clients.
“We are doing our groups and individual intakes either by phone or by the ZOOM app. We have group times that were already scheduled for us before we had to shut down because of COVID-19,” Chemical Dependency Counselor, Morrissa Sells said.
Something that Chemical Dependency Counselor Cindy Smith said has its pros and its cons when it comes to client feedback.
“There’s a lot of anxiety that goes along with substance abuse anyway and then you have people with mental health and it is, it’s a struggle for some they’re at home and they’re fine, they’re like I don’t have to leave my house,” Smith said.
This is something many are struggling with right now, but folks like Snyder, Sells, and Smith are still there to lend support to those who have re-entered a strange new world.
Counselors with S.A.G.E. said they are going to keep utilizing zoom and said they may even continue using it after this pandemic is over.