OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With yet another surge of COVID-19 cases, many Oklahomans experiencing addiction have turned to drugs to help combat isolation and stress.

The CDC reports that in Oklahoma there has been a 20% rise in drug overdose deaths during the pandemic. That increase has left some loved ones desperate to help those battling addiction.

In an effort to build that better connection, Oklahoma State University’s National Center for Wellness & Recovery (NCWR) will begin offering a free virtual addiction support program: Hope Network. The program starts on Wednesday, February 2 and will teach families and friends how to better understand addiction, learn coping skills and how to be a healthier resource for their loved one.

“When you have a family member or loved one who is suffering from substance use addiction, it can take a toll on everyone involved and their relationships,” said Melissa Baker, counselor at the NCWR Addiction Recovery Clinic. “We offer new approaches that can provide different perspectives on how people are impacted by addiction and how changing your way of thinking and interacting can make a positive change.”

NCWR professionals will equip families and friends with strategies on how to encourage their loved ones to seek recovery, as well as help them navigate their own feelings of grief, guilt, anger and mistrust.

The virtual program will be held on Wednesdays from noon to 1:15 p.m. To register, or for more information about Hope Network, contact the NCWR Addiction Recovery Clinic at 918-561-1890 or HopeNetwork@okstate.edu.