YAKIMA, WA-  While coronavirus cases rise again in Yakima another crisis is also keeping nurses and doctors busy.

Opioid abuse is an epidemic throughout the nation now the Pandemic is adding more stress and anxiety to those who suffer substance abuse problems. 

“That was a big problem even before COVID I think the conditions have kind of worsened. There's a lot of economic despair , stress, anxiety. People out of work so I think that leads to opioid abuse but other substances,” said Brian Padilla, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital.

The director of the Opioid Treatment Program at Comprehensive Healthcare says more people are feeling the effects of isolation.

“I would say their support system has diminished or gotten smaller since the COVID-19 emergency. People are not reaching out to the people that they normally would've,” said the Director of Opioid Treatment Program at Comprehensive Healthcare, Christopher Butler.

Online groups have been essential to treating patients but that hasn't helped everyone.

Butler said “At the beginning of the year we were having anywhere from 2 to 4 people possibly a week coming in. Now we're seeing upwards 8-10 a week.”

The Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Virginia Mason Memorial says there are two categories of people being affected by the opioid crisis.

“A lot of the homeless population is Opioid dependent addicted and their drug of choice is Heroin and Alfentanil. So a lot of those over doses but I think some of the newer ones that were seeing because of the pandemic are patients that are just in despair and are using just as an outlet,” said Padilla.

Now, he says they have more resources available to help people and medications that can help people recover.

Butler says when people have the right medication it helps patients “focus on the rest of their life, and building their life. Because when they're in the midst of using it creates a lot of damage in their life.”

“It's extremely important to have an Opioid treatment program here because it's a harm reductions model. It helps a certain amount of people who have tried many other programs and have not been successful at those programs,” said Butler.

For substance abuse help contact Comprehensive Healthcare. 

For the 24-hour crisis hot line call: 

Kittitas County- Upper (509) 674-2188

Kittitas County- Lower (509) 925-4168

Yakima County (509) 575-4200

Klickitat County (833)4079286

Walla Walla County (509) 524-2999

Benton Franklin County-(509) 783-0500

For help in the Opioid Treatment Program click here.