CLEVELAND, Ohio — Since 1993, Y-Haven, which was formed by the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, has provided temporary housing and drug and alcohol treatment to adults in Cuyahoga County.
The facility has helped clients during the crack cocaine epidemic and the ongoing opioid epidemic. And now, addiction specialists said they are helping community members get through the coronavirus pandemic.
Y-Haven Case Counselor Pamela Switzer said the increased stress and isolation has many people who are prone to addiction in need of a helping hand.
“They’re looking for a place, you know, that you can reach to give them that hope that no matter what happened, no matter what it was like, there is hope. Life can really get better one day—one day at a time, really," Switzer said.
In May 2020, Cuyahoga County saw more opioid deaths than in any month over the last three years. Y-Haven resident Margaret Hutchinson said the numbers are not shocking.
“It doesn't surprise me at all. You know, because there's a lot of who were unaware that places like Y-Haven exist. They might not know where to start, they might not know where to go, they might not know what their options are. And then a lot of times, being an addict like I am, it's just easy to fall back into old habits when you don't have the support or the structure that you need,” Hutchinson said.
Y-Haven has helped thousands of people recover from addiction, secure permanent housing and re-build their lives.
Hutchinson said she’s encouraged to see the program continue to meet the growing need even while facing the challenges brought on by COVID-19
“Thankfully, Y-Haven kept the doors open to people so they could come here, and they could continue care,” she said.
Y-Haven representatives said they have taken directives from state and local health officials on how to continue offering their services safely. Patrick Dunlap said he’s grateful to be a Y-Haven resident, especially during this pandemic.
“Everybody calls it the haven, the safe haven. Before they come in before, they do the intake. They make sure you keep your mask on at all times. Gotta stay six feet apart. People have to have social distancing so you can't be all mingled up together, but they're doing a beautiful job of that, " Dunlap said.
Switzer said Y-Haven has even made arrangements to help those who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 by arranging hotel stays and virtual visits. She said during and beyond this pandemic, Y-Haven’s doors will stay open to keep those suffering with addiction motivated and to keep them on the road to recovery.
“Where there's a will there's a way. Recovery is available by phone. We have hotlines set up. The meetings have reinvented themselves by way of Zoom. It isn’t the end of the world—it’s the beginning of something new," she said.