WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, there's an epidemic that's still affecting many who feel voiceless.
Through a new grant, a West Palm Beach medical society is finding a new way to combat the opioid epidemic, which is having a huge impact on local African-American communities.
10 years ago, Matthew Williams got sober.
"I just celebrated 10 years and I was just extremely fortunate to be down here in South Florida," Williams said. "Obviously, there's a lot of places to get sober."
Getting help and going through substance abuse recovery is difficult for anyone, but the coronavirus pandemic has made it even more challenging.
Tanya Young Williams, the founder and CEO of Pivot Treatment Center in West Palm Beach, said social distancing has made it more difficult for people to seek help, and right now, the communities suffering the most are the ones that don't have access to resources.
"Many people in our community are underinsured or not insured, and that is a big, big hurdle to getting treatment," Williams said.
Through a grant the Thomas Leroy Jefferson Medical Society in Palm Beach Gardens has obtained, their physicians are hoping to help African-American communities who are experiencing an increase in opioid-related overdoses.
"To understand why we put this together, we have to understand why this is an issue in the black American community," said Dr. Karl Michel, a board member for the medical society.
Dr. Michel said many African-American communities lack access to information like where they can get treatment if uninsured or what opioids do to those prescribed for chronic pain.
Williams said education is key, especially during these challenging times where family members may not know something is wrong.
"Like most people, you get to a place where you're by yourself," Williams said. "You don't want anybody to see what you're doing and you don't really want to be around other people because you typically feel ashamed of what you're doing and how you're doing it."
If you're someone hoping to learn more about substance abuse resources and recovery, Pivot Treatment Center is hosting a free community wellness and empowerment day offering free screenings and COVID-19 testing.
The event is on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 801 SE 6th Avenue in Delray Beach. There are two sessions: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
You have to reserve a spot, and you can do so by calling 561-236-8059.
To learn more about Pivot Treatment Center, click here.