Bendigo Community Health Service has opted to change the way it accepts patient referrals, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Melbourne.
"With all of the hotspots in Melbourne, we have had to make the tough decision not to take out of area referrals into our detox unit," BCHS team manager of clinical alcohol and other drug programs' Sheenah Van Eck said.
"This is about keeping Bendigo as safe as we can.
"We sometimes accept patients from Melbourne to align them with services, but 90 per cent of our referrals are from the Loddon Mallee region."
BCHS has implemented strict COVID-19 protocols at its detox facilities, including no visitors or outings.
"Ordinarily, we would visit gardens, go for walks and get out and connect with nature," Ms Van Eck said.
"Our unit, like so many detox and rehab units have closed our doors to visitors.
"We have found people are committed to accessing services and they know this commitment means they will be locked down."
Alcohol-free fundraisers, such as Dry July brings people's drinking habits and their impact to the forefront, Ms Van Eck said.
"Initiatives like Dry July can show people they have a problem with alcohol," Ms Van Eck said.
"Anything that helps people to stop and think about their habits often leads to more counselling and demand for detox services."
Dry July is an annual fundraiser that encourages people to go alcohol-free during July, to raise money for people affected by cancer.
Ms Van Eck said Dry July might be particularly challenging this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"People tend to drink more when they're at home and off-duty," Ms Van Eck said.
"With so many people at home, their old off-duty habits are creeping into work time.
"People are telling us they have noticed their drinking has changed."
The pandemic hasn't resulted in a drop off in people access alcohol and other drug services, according to Ms Van Eck.
"Our numbers aren't down and across the state, it has been noted that retention rates for detox programs are actually higher," she said.