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Drug Free Hall forum to help people ‘find hope in this time of isolation’
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J's Place executive director Jordan Hussey has seen a four times increase in demand for services recently at the recovery community organization in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

As Hall County is experiencing an increase in COVID cases, Jordan Hussey said she and the members of the Partnership for a Drug Free Hall are trying to help people “find hope in this time of isolation.”

“During this time of isolation, people who haven’t necessarily struggled with mental health and substance use in the past may find themselves during this time disconnected, maybe drinking more during the day or may be experiencing a lot of depression or other mental health challenges as a result of just being away from their people,” said Hussey, who is the executive director of the Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. Recovery Center.

The partnership is hosting a virtual forum called “Hope in Recovery” with the intention to inform the public at large about some of the tools the recovery community has used for years to get and stay well.

Hope in Recovery

What: Partnership for a Drug Free Hall virtual forum 

When: 6-7 p.m. Dec. 10

For the Zoom link, visit

“The thing that we really wanted to get across was the hopefulness of connections and how to do that and how to stay sober,” said Judy Brownell, the director of prevention at Center Point and coordinator for the partnership.

Hussey will be the host and panel moderator for the event. Deb Esposito, a peer recovery coach, will discuss the increased use of opioids, heroin and alcohol during the pandemic. 

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During the summer, The Times reported on how overdoses in the first half of 2020 were higher compared to the same time period in 2019.

Hussey said services rendered at the recovery center on Juanita Avenue, commonly called J’s Place, peaked at 1,898 in May. The executive director said those numbers have stabilized closer to 1,400-1,500.

Northeast Georgia Health System set a new record Friday, Dec. 4, of 196 confirmed COVID-19 patients being treated while another 47 patients await test results.

During the pandemic, group meetings moved online and recovery advocates got creative to keep the support going. For the recovery community, Hussey said “we have to find a way.”

“There’s no throwing in the towel for us, because we look at recovery like it’s life or death,” she said.

Brownell said certain coping skills can be developed by anybody willing to learn. It may be as simple as having someone trustworthy to talk to about what you’re experiencing, Hussey said.

“More now than ever before, we need each other,” Hussey said. “We can’t do this by ourselves. If isolation and the pandemic have shown us anything, it’s how much we need people in our circle to support us and lend a helping hand.”

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