The year 2020 has brought an immense for everyone around the world. With concerns about contracting the disease, as well as the economic hardship it brings, many are placed in a stressful and difficult position. For people recovering from psychoactive substances, the pandemic presents even greater challenges. While both diseases may seem like independent occurrences, the COVID-19 Pandemic and addiction have a synergistic relationship. While continued drug abuse weakens one’s immune system, the stress brought on by the virus has been shown to impede substance abuse treatment and recovery.

Even in the midst of these pandemics, a University of Arizona student has achieved a major goal of his. Zachary Stout is nearing graduation a degree in, as well as two other degrees from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and an interdisciplinary undergraduate major for philosophy, politics, economics, and law.

Stout, now at the age 34, reflects on a time when he was inundated with opioid addiction. He recalls a time when in his addiction, driving by the campus of the University of Arizona thinking to himself “That could have been my future.” At a later point, Stout was arrested for selling opioids (as a means of sustaining his own addiction) and spent two and a half years in prison.

Zachary Stout’s Perseverance in Recovery

During his time in prison, Stout noticed a disparity in educational opportunities within the prison system. After serving his time, he also saw the difficulties that many former inmates encounter when seeking employment due to criminal backgrounds. From these observations, he recommitted himself to advancing his education in order to advocate for prison policy change. “My main goal is broad-sweeping policy change to expand access to education for the currently incarcerated and put an end to laws that limit admissions for those who have been in prison,” Stout said in an interview with University of Arizona.

Even in the midst of the stress from demanding academics, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, Stout has defied the adversity with his recovery intact. He is set to graduate from U of A’s undergraduate program; and also set for a fast-track program to graduate with a master’s degree in 2021.

Stonewall Institute’s Stance on the COVID-19 Pandemic and Addiction

Stout’s story of recovery and achievement during this speaks volumes about the power of recovery during difficult times. For those who are faced with both the COVID-19 Pandemic and Addiction, there are numerous stressors to both one’s physical and mental health. However, even in the most challenging times, there is still hope that anyone can take steps to better their lives.

At Stonewall Institute, we share this sentiment. Even if things look bleak with both the Covid-19 Pandemic and addiction, there is hope and help available. If you or a loved one need help in getting starting on a path to recovery, our team is ready to help. Give us a call at 602-535-6468 and we can help you get started.

You can also read Zachary Stout’s interview of the University of Arizona here: