A Cumbrian charity which helps those fighting drug and alcohol addiction has set up a new helpline to ensure people who need their support can still access it during the lockdown.
The Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service - or CADAS - has closed all five of its offices but it still holding phone and face to face zoom meetings with clients.
In addition, some temporary services have also been put in place to offer short-term information, advice and guidance to those in need of help and support. These comprise of a new telephone hotline and a dedicated email address which guarantees a call-back. An online chat service will be available soon.
Cumbria Community Foundation has contributed significantly to the cost of setting up the helpline.
"We want to be a listening ear if people are in crisis," said CADAS Chief Executive Officer Leigh Williams. "We also want to be a hub for all drug, alcohol and addictive behaviour information in Cumbria. We might refer callers into our own long term, therapeutic service or signpost them to other agencies where they can receive help."
We know that the coronavirus pandemic will massively impact the mental and physical health of people because of self-isolation, restricted movement and financial hardship and worries caused by redundancy or the threat of redundancy.
"People are struggling to cope and often when that happens, they turn to things like alcohol and drugs or addictive behaviours, such as gambling or gaming. If left unchecked these behaviours can become harmful and have the potential to destroy lives.
"CADAS is here to help people to recognise and identify the signs early and then offer help to them before things get out of hand - before people lose their driving licence, their job or their family."
She added there were a lot of memes flooding social media with people joking about drinking during the coronavirus lockdown. "People are drinking to a level they would not normally do. At the moment it's seen as fun but I am concerned that this behaviour will continue if movement restrictions go on into the summer.
"People are using drinking as a crutch to get through these challenging times but there is a danger if that becomes normalised behaviour."
The charity's funding has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with the cancellation of community fundraisers and events, and staff are worried that they won't be able to keep up with their £10,000 pound per week running costs without additional help.
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