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Mondays Dark hosts Black Monday for substance abuse nonprofit

COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates opioid epidemic
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Posted at 7:35 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 09:09:43-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For 18-year-old Christian Jones, the pandemic brought his substance abuse to a head.

"I was super high in my room," Jones said. "My parent had walked in and they had seen me. They asked me what I was doing. I just broke down in tears and told them, 'I need help.'"

RELATED: Study finds increase in drug overdose deaths amid pandemic

Jones said when he was young, he was abused by someone he lived with. He started taking pills at 14.

Now 18 and a senior at Mission High School, Jones said the pandemic has made recovery more challenging with fewer positive outlets and more time to sit in his own thoughts.

"For me, when I'm bored, you want to do something like get high," he said.

But he has motivation - staying sober for his sisters - and a supportive community through the Alternative Peer Group.

"It's hard to reach out when you can't reach out," said Rhonda Fairchild, who runs the Alternative Peer Group and sits on the board for There is No Hero in Heroin.

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Fairchild said the pandemic has slowed, but not stalled, their work on the opioid epidemic. She said fewer people are coming in for treatment, some aren't aware resources are still available.

"We're still here," Fairchild said. "We're waiting on you. We're looking for you. We want you to come in."

Rob Banghart is the program manager at Freedom House sober living facility. Once a week, Banghart walks the tunnels near downtown Las Vegas, where he lived for about two years. He passes out necessities to homeless people and lets them know about available resources.

"The longer I've done it, the more I've learned you start that conversation but then walk away," Banghart said. "It has to be their idea. They have to want it."

Many, like Jones, do want sobriety. Fairchild said her two sons, who had both struggled with substance abuse for more than a decade, have remained in active recovery, even in the midst of a pandemic.

"Nothing will ever make me as happy as those two boys being in recovery," she said.

Mondays Dark is hosting this year's Black Monday event, which brings together resources for people struggling with substance abuse and their loved ones. Mondays Dark is both virtual and in-person for a limited group, which safety protocols in place.