MCALLEN (KVEO) — Months ago – during the shutdown — addiction counselors told us they feared more people would relapse because of isolation. 

And that’s exactly what happened. Texas saw relapse rates go up 22% in 2020 according to the American Addiction Center. 

Local rehabilitation center, Palmer Drug Abuse Program, says the pandemic has heightened emotions for everyone. 

“They feel hopeless, depressed, that they are alone—but the fact of the matter is that they are not alone,” said outreach specialist and counselor Ricardo Duarte.   

Duarte says isolation has also created opportunities for recovering users to relapse.  

“They have been going on even before the pandemic, but with this pandemic going on they have increased—why? Because most clients are quarantined, they’re staying at home,” said Duarte.    

Founder and counselor at A Vision For You, J.J. Rodriguez, says he is a recovered addict and that depressants like alcohol and Xanax are commonly used to self-medicate. 

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“Everybody is in a sense of heightened anxiety—when anyone is experiencing any type of anxiety, we feel uncomfortable,” said Rodriguez  

“So, when we go back to the brain doesn’t like to feel this pain it always wants to feel pleasure, this is a form of trying to escape their own lives today.”  

However, the need for escapism is not the only challenge the pandemic poses. 

“Some people in recovery and some people in the bondage of using right now have lost jobs, not because of their using and their drinking, but because of what has happened in the world today,” said Rodriguez.    

Rodriguez says he has seen a 30% increase in clients since 2019 and is administering counseling remotely.  


If you are struggling with substance abuse and are seeking free help, contact Palmer Drug Abuse Program at 956-687-7714   

Join a 24/7 service of support with substance abuse via Zoom here: 

Find local RGV group support here: