KENNEBUNK, Maine — Experts say heightened fear and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a lack of access to treatment programs, is contributing to more Mainers succumbing to their addiction.
A new app called Safe House Recovery is putting key resources at the fingertips of people struggling with substance use disorder.
Eliza Conley-Lepene, the app's creator, launched the free nationwide platform this month. Users in all 50 states can get help by downloading Safe House Recovery in the App Store or Google Play.
Icons for counseling, detox and rehab programs, sober houses, AA, NA meetings, and legal resources are listed for all 16 Maine counties. There is also an emergency icon.
"There is an emergency button in the middle, so if you have someone who has witnessed someone overdosing, it's an easy button to click," Conley-Lepene said.
Conley-Lepene vividly recalled spending precious time searching for the closest shelter while trying to leave an abusive relationship.
"It just takes too long and it's disempowering," she said.
"Some people give up because finding help is just too complicated," she added.
Her experience as a domestic abuse survivor inspired her to to create the Safe House app.
The free nationwide platform provides helplines and resources for domestic abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, and suicide. Since July, it's been downloaded more than 5,000 times. Along with her nonprofit Safe House, Conley-Lepene wanted to create another tool for people to get help, with resources and information accessible in one place with just a tap on their phone.
"I am hoping that this does save lives. That's why my team is so dedicated into this project," Conley-Lepene said.
With Maine agencies and advocates under pressure to provide more mental health services during the pandemic, Conley-Lepene is also working on educating therapists and advocates to refer clients who are in crisis to the app. She said this will save time and valuable referral information when treatment beds aren't available.
If you are in crisis and need help you can call the Maine Statewide Crisis Help line at 1-888-568-1112 or click here.
For substance disorder, treatment, programs, and support, click here.