Substance use and mental health disorder recovery resources during the pandemic

The pandemic is creating unique challenges for those faced with substance use and mental health disorders, including those in active recovery. Social isolation can heighten symptoms and cravings. Meanwhile connection – the antidote to isolation and a cornerstone of many recovery programs – has changed in the face of social distancing.

Before coronavirus, rooms and facilities in communities across the globe were filled with groups of people offering each other resources, tips, and stories of strength and hope. Now, those groups have been asked to stop meeting in-person, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Fortunately, many recovery groups and facilities have quickly and successfully pivoted to the virtual landscape, while others have maintained or expanded the online or phone-based services they already provided.

Recovery can and does happen, even during a pandemic. Balanced You is here to help you understand what online and phone-based resources are available to support you or your loved ones in beginning, returning to, or maintaining recovery.

Insurance benefits for mental health and substance use disorders

Behavioral health and substance use are covered benefits under all King County employee insurance plans. Call your insurance provider to ask for information on medically assisted and other professional treatments. If you have general questions about what’s covered by your King County medical plan, contact King County Benefits at or 206-684-1556.

  • Kaiser Permanente members: For help with access to mental health services, call 1-888-287-2680 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For help after hours, call the consulting nurse at 1-800-297-6877.
  • King Care/Regence BlueShield members: Call customer service at 800-376-7926 for help finding a qualified therapist or other health care provider.
  • Better Choices, Better Health Better Choices, Better Health: These six-week web-based workshops, available at no cost for benefits-covered employees and eligible family members, are designed for people living with long-term health conditions, including mental health conditions. Participants receive support while learning about and practicing self-care. Visit the Better Choices, Better Health website or call 1-888-384-1933.
  • Making Life Easier Making Life Easier (MLE): Provides short-term counseling, legal and financial services, support for caregivers, and other daily living supports. Eight free counseling sessions per issue are provided for employees or anyone living in your home. MLE is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit the MLE website, username or call 888-874-7290.

Recovery meetings

Many 12-step programs have shifted to online formats. Below is a sample of virtual meetings available. For a more comprehensive list of virtual recovery resources during the pandemic, as well as tips for starting your own virtual 12-step meeting, take a look at this resource sheet developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): Free 12-step program and support for recovery from alcohol use and addiction. For a list of electronic, Seattle-based meetings, visit the Seattle AA website. Or, visit the Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous’ OIAA Meeting Directory for a list of hundreds of meetings in various formats, in many languages, happening 24/7.
  • Heroin Anonymous: Free 12-step program and support for heroin use and addiction. For a list of electronic meetings happening throughout the United States visit the Heroin Anonymous website.
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA): Free 12-step program and support for drug use and addiction. For a list of Seattle-based online meetings, visit the Narcotics Anonymous website.
  • National Eating Disorder Alliance Network Virtual Support Groups (NEDA): NEDA and partners organize these virtual support groups for those in recovery from eating disorders or disordered eating or body image issues. Support available for individuals as well as family members. Visit the NEDA website for more information.
  • Unity Recovery: National organization offering free digital recovery meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online recovery support groups available throughout the day specifically for family and loved ones, LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. All recovery meetings are non-denominational and are open to anyone. Visit the Unity Recovery website for more information.

Suicide prevention and crisis resources

Feelings of social isolation can be especially triggering for people struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. If you or someone you know are in danger, please call 9-1-1, or contact the resources listed below.

  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Provides support for survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide. Visit afsp.orgor call 206-523-1206.
  • Crisis Text Line: Offers trained crisis counselors available for texting, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit or text HOME to 741741.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: National network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential emotional support for people in distress. Visit or call 800-273-8255.

Additional resources

Additional resources including resource directories and resources for families of people struggling with mental health and substance use disorder are listed below.

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness, Washington (NAMI): Maintains a directory of community resources. NAMI also offers free programs, education, and advocacy work for those affected by mental illness. Visit
  • Washington Recovery Helpline: Provides phone-based emotional support 24 hours a day and offers local treatment resources for substance abuse, problem gambling, and other community services. Visit or call 866-789-1511.
  • Crisis Connections: Provides phone-based crisis intervention, peer support, and resources for King County and other communities. Programs include the 24-Hour Crisis Line, King County 211, Teen Link, and WA Warm Line. Visit or call 866-427-4747.
  • Al-Anon: Free 12-step program for anyone who has been affected by someone else’s alcohol or substance use. Visit the Seattle-area Al-Anon website for a list of electronic meetings.
  • Mental Health America: The nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Visit
  • Center for Addiction: Free and confidential helpline services for you and your loved ones struggling with addiction. You can connect to us in the following ways, with support available in English and Spanish. We’re available from 9:00am-midnight ET weekdays and noon-5:00pm ET on weekends. Text 55753, call 855-378-4373, or visit

If you have questions, or need assistance in identifying additional resources, please contact

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