Residents in Recovery has faced successes and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The drug and alcohol recovery centre spent the pandemic adapting its services. This means closing their physical offices, renting a second house in order to help recovering residents self-isolate and quarantine and move their face to face rehabilitation programming to virtual meetings.

Executive Director Tyler Lorenz says operating around the pandemic has been challenging, but there has been good news.

“The two months we had all the houses locked down and we weren’t in the office, we actually only had one relapse the entire time, which kind of surprised us. We have never gone that long without a relapse, so that was a huge success.”

Residents in Recovery did see some financial assistance as well. In addition to a well-received fundraiser before the pandemic, giving them funding until May.  They also got some government funding, and have been in talks with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

One thing Residents in Recovery is continuing to prepare for is a higher demand for their services. Doctor Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, alluded to a Nanos survey this week showing some Canadians were consuming more alcohol than average while being largely under stay-at-home orders.

Lorenz says the pandemic hitting triggers which could cause someone recovering to relapse, such as mental health concerns or job losses, is something he’s seen.

“As of this point, our applications have increased recently. We still have a substantial waiting list, but even from the Lloydminster area, probably more Lloydminster applicants than we’ve ever had. It’s definitely taking a toll.”

Lorenz adds the mental health impacts of the pandemic may be with us for a long time to come.

Though some clients moving on to either treatment or into their own homes, new ones on their waitlist are entering the program, and Residents in Recovery is going to be at capacity again in their sober living homes. Lorenz explains that they’re running at a six to one client to staff ratio as of now.

In response, Residents in Recovery is working on bringing virtual programming to other communities, to get some additional funding help from those towns.  An expansion is planned for a new home in Bonnyville, where they hope to open on July 1st.

Day programming and allowing residents to leave self-isolation and shop for supplies or groceries is also gradually resuming, in smaller groups.