CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Multiple communities around the country are seeing an increase in substance abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many substance abuse and mental health services are still available virtually during the pandemic to those who would typically access them in-person. The Department of Health and Human Services have changed their rules to allow substance users to take home a maximum of four weeks of medications.

Before the crisis, federal guidelines required those receiving methadone treatments to go to the clinic six days a week. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the Covid-19 pandemic could possibly hit populations with substance use disorders particularly hard.

22News spoke with Gandara Center Director of Clinical Services Audra Winn who said, “This is a time when people who can’t reach out to others like normal in the same ways as usual. Old habits might come back in. That’s not just for substance but it’s for eating disorders, for anxiety for depression.”

The CDC says they have not been able to track drug overdoses during the pandemic but there was a documented increase in opioid use during the 2008 recession due to isolation of those who lost their jobs.

The Gandara Center in western Massachusetts is one of the organizations offering substance use, mental health and domestic violence services virtually for those who need it.