BHealthy Blog

Help for Kicking Pandemic Substance Abuse

Substance abuse has increased as Americans figured out how to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Isolation, fear and unemployment have caused people to either start using or increase their use of drugs and alcohol.

Nearly one-third of people in the U.S. who drink alcohol have increased their consumption since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to a study by LifeWorks and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Nearly 30 percent who use drugs reported an increase in that activity. 

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

In the United States, excessive alcohol use is responsible for 1 in 10 total deaths among working-age adults every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems, including alcohol use disorder and problems with learning, memory, and mental health.

Chronic health conditions that have been linked to excessive alcohol use include: 

New Vision

As public spaces open up again, employees return to work and the weight of the pandemic is somewhat lifted, many are finding it hard to leave their bad habits behind. 

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in the need for substance abuse and mental health services over the last 18 months,” said Branden Morris BA, CADC, service coordinator at New Vision, a medical stabilization program at Baptist Health. 

Baptist Health offers substance abuse treatment in many locations in Arkansas. Programs like New Vision and Recover help patients 18 and older safely withdraw from opiates, benzodiazepines, alcohol, and other stimulants in the hospital.

“These services are so vital because some withdrawals can be fatal to patients, as well as, the sickness of coming off these chemicals can be a major barrier to getting help long-term,” said Branden Morris BA, CADC, New Vision service coordinator. 

The New Vision program is available for patients comfortably and safely at both Baptist Health-Fort Smith and Baptist Health-Van Buren. Treatment consists of a medically supervised hospital stay for inpatient stabilization that typically lasts three days.

Through a careful screening and assessment, patients are given a customized plan to aid them on the road to recovery. New Vision staff help facilitate aftercare plans for patients while they are in the program. 

“On average 71.5 percent  of all our patients in 2021 connected with a long-term aftercare program post discharge from New Vision,” Morris said. 

While the program is voluntary, New Vision also works with families and companies to help start the conversation with loved ones and employees about alcohol dependency and substance abuse. 

“We highly encourage admission into a long term aftercare program, such as residential treatment, outpatient treatment, or medically assisted treatment as we find patients are much more likely to succeed if they follow-up with an aftercare plan,” said Morris.

For more information regarding New Vision, call 479-471-4600. You can find additional mental health services here.


Recover is located at Baptist Health in Little Rock. The program includes inpatient detoxification and daily group sessions to address addiction and substance abuse issues.

Baptist Health offers a complimentary assessment to determine whether our program is right for you. For more information regarding Recover or other substance abuse treatment in central Arkansas, call 501-202-2893.

We also offer a treatment program located in Malvern at 1001 Schneider Drive. Baptist Health Medical Center-Hot Spring County Medical Detox offers inpatient detoxification and care for those in need of substance abuse treatment. For more information about the program, please call 501-202-7006, or toll-free at 877-247-9724.

For more resources, including tips on how to talk to kids about alcohol use, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website at