Cottage center helps addicts during pandemic and holidays
You don’t have to struggle alone.
Cottage Residential Center is stressing that message for those working to recover from drug and alcohol addiction during the pandemic and the holiday season.
“Addiction breeds in isolation, and it’s important for people to have the support needed for recovery,” said Nan Schooley, one of the lead case managers at the Santa Barbara center, which is part of Cottage Health.
“Coronavirus-related stress has accelerated the use of drugs and alcohol,” Ms. Schooley said, but noted the center can help people even during these dark times.
“The sense of community is what people need to be pulled out of the darkness and into the light,” she told the News-Press.
During the pandemic, the center is serving nine residents, who get their own rooms in a facility that is following social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols, Ms. Schooley said. She added that clients are relying on Zoom to virtually attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Video conferencing also can help them stay in touch with loved ones.
The center isn’t taking walks-in, but Ms. Schooley said people can call the center to become a resident or simply to talk and know someone is giving them support. (See the FYI box.)
The center has a collaborative treatment approach that includes chemical dependency professionals, licensed psychotherapists and registered nurses, with referrals to physicians who specialize in addiction medicine. The facility is open to men and women 18 and older, and insurance is accepted.
Ms. Schooley knows what addicts face.
“I’m in recovery,” said Ms. Schooley, who has been sober for 30 years in her recovery from alcohol addiction. “I got sober when I was 29 years old. I just turned 59.
“I had struggled with recovery and ended up going to Casa Serena,” Ms. Schooley said, referring to Santa Barbara treatment center for women.
She said she was scared at first to get help.
“I felt so bad about myself. I was afraid to let people know that and see me,” Ms. Schooley said.
But she found acceptance.
After people got to know her and her struggles, they showed they were there to support her, Ms. Schooley said.
Instead of being with the program for 30 days as she planned, she stayed with it for 90 days and continued at its graduate house.
Ms. Schooley said she considers helping others to be an important part of her own recovery. She said the fact she’s a recovering addict makes her relatable to the center’s clients.
“First of all, I just tell them that they never have to be alone in this and that we do this together,” Ms. Schooley said.
She added she tells people that the biggest gift they can give themselves is to let go of outside stressors and focus on healing.
Ms. Schooley said the center explores the underlying feelings that preceded the use of alcohol and drugs and works with the residents on developing healthier coping skills.
“We look at drugs and alcohol as symptoms of an underlying condition,” she said.
Ms. Schooley described the approach to recovery. “What do I need to do to take care of myself in this situation? If I can learn to focus on my sobriety first, then all the other things have an opportunity to fall into place.”
She said people are sometimes reluctant to come to the center during the holidays.
“They want to be with their families for the holidays, but the reality is coming in during the holidays is the biggest gift they can give their family members, who know they’re in a safe place and they’re getting help.
“They’re getting to heal.”