The holidays are typically a happy time for people, a time for families to spend time together, but for some people--the holidays are extremely lonely and they turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.
According to the CDC, amid the pandemic young people are eight times more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.
Those who were already struggling with addiction said the loneliness, the isolation and the stress of everything is making a difficult situation even harder.
"In March I got what we call a 'sober job' at TJ Maxx and within a week I was furloughed," said Christie Frasier. "I started to get extremely hopeless again."
Frasier is struggling to stay clean.
"I was laying in the hotel room, starting to go through withdrawals and I picked up phone [and[ called 911. The lady on the phone said 'Just stay on the phone with me,'" she said.
Stevie Willis is struggling too. Though he had been getting help recently, he relapsed.
"I wasn't following my steps like I should've," he said. "I had a great sponsor, but instead of calling him, I turned my phone off, used a new drug."
He said the death of his grandmother this year only made things worse.
"I was depressed. I had no where to go. I cried the night it happened," he said.
Instead of working to get clean, the pain of losing her only made him want to use more.
According to rehab.com, there's been a 383 percent increase in the number of people seeking treatment this year.
"I think it's really important for parents and family members to know it's ok to reach out and talk to their loved ones and ask them how they're doing," said William Perno.
Perno is an Alcohol and Drug Prevention Specialist at the non-profit, Say San Diego, an organization that helps provide services to families including substance abuse prevention and mental health counseling. He said this time of year with the holidays can be especially hard. With the pandemic, feelings of isolation and loneliness may be greater than ever.
"Especially for people who have suffered a loss during the year, the pandemic has definitely amplified that," said Perno.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 40 states are seeing an increase of opioid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
"Addiction is a constant battle. It never goes away. You're always one drink away, one line away, anything away from falling off," said Willis.
Frasier says that face-to-face contact while in recovery is important.
"Technology doesn't solve the problem," she said. "You need to be face-to -face physically with people."
Both Frasier and Willis said they hope sharing their stories inspires others to get help.
"It's not shameful," said Frasier. "It doesn't matter who you are, where you came from. Life happens. Everyone has something they're going through."
"As long as one person gets better, I'll be happy," said Willis. "One person finds me on Facebook and says 'Hey, I saw your story it touched me,' I hope that happens for somebody, even one person."
If you or someone you know needs help, click here for resources.
As we close out 2020 and enter into the holiday season, many people are isolated from family and friends because of COVID-19. We will explore the impact of isolation on mental health in our series Going It Alone.
We’d also like to hear from you if you're Going It Alone this holiday season.
If you want to share your story or have us address a specific topic, please send an email to email@example.com and add Going It Alone in the subject line.