COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Health leaders call it an epidemic within the pandemic: overdoses and addiction getting worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The issue is being felt around the country and Columbus has not been spared.
Columbus Public Health wants people to know resources are available.
Columbus and Franklin County Addiction Plan’s Walk in for Recovery events have been happening all summer, with hundreds of people seeking help over the past month as organizers said more people need the help.
For Joshua Phillips, it’s an eight-year battle he’s still fighting.
“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said.
The 23-year-old said he’s been dealing with alcohol and substance abuse since his teenage years, mostly having issues with Fentanyl.
“I had a lot of stuff happen when I was younger,” Phillips said. “I would say not kind of, but it is the reason why I have been an active user in addiction.”
According to the Franklin County Coroner, overdose deaths in 2020 increased by 45.6 percent.
Phillips said he’s survived several overdoses and one of his biggest challenges earlier on in the pandemic was isolation, in part caused by not having in-person meetings.
“I’ve been so lonely,” he said. “I can’t even describe how much, like, it’s been getting to me.”
But last summer, he walked into Columbus and Franklin County Addiction Plan’s Walk in for Recovery — recovery clinics held during the summer in communities with many medical services available.
“Our whole premise was to make sure we were reaching people who didn’t necessarily feel comfortable coming into agencies,” said Andrea Boxill, public health administrator for Columbus and Franklin County Addiction Plan.
Phillips first met Boxill at one of last summer’s clinics in the community, meeting again at Tuesday’s clinic at Lower Lights Health in Franklinton.
“Something in me told me to try it,” Phillips said. “For once, don’t deny it. Don’t deny the help, take the hand that I’m being lent. And I did it and I felt so much better after.”
Phillips is one of more than 430 people the clinics have helped this summer.
The last Walk in for Recovery clinic for the summer is at Lower Lights, 1160 West Broad Street, on Wednesday.
Anyone seeking help can be connected to many of the services the clinics offer by getting in touch with Columbus Public Health at any time during the year.