In light of the COVID19 pandemic and the associated lockdown, hundreds of millions of people around the world have had their lives turned upside down. In the process, there are several high-risk groups of people who have been subject to a higher degree of adversity because of being isolated in their homes. In particular, addiction sufferers are taking a direct hit in more ways than one. That warrants a conversation.
How Addiction Sufferers Are Being Hurt By the Lockdowns and Social Distancing
Focusing on the U.S., the lockdown of companies and small businesses has adversely affected a majority of the population. It’s no secret that depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideology tend to increase as the economy falls into recession. By all accounts, the U.S. economy has certainly taken a big hit with the unemployment rate running up to well over 14% by the end of May.
While industry after industry has been left toiling, it would appear liquor and drug sales have been going through the root. That’s not good news for the millions of U.S. citizens who struggle every day with their drug and alcohol addiction issues. That includes large groups of people who are still living in the throes of addiction, as well as the ones who are in recovery.
How Addiction Counseling is Changing in a COVID-19 World
As relentless as drug and alcohol addictions tend to be, the treatment of these horrible diseases has to be just as relentless. During the COVID-19, getting treatment to the addiction sufferers who need it hasn’t been an easy process. The pandemic came like the wind, leaving little time for the addiction treatment to come up with a methodology for treating clients without violating social distancing rules.
It’s good to see that the addiction treatment community refuses to be deterred. As of the writing of this article, addiction treatment professionals are making major changes to the way they deliver addiction treatment services. This has been necessitated due to the inability of the experts to predict the continuing course of the pandemic.
It’s difficult to measure the impact America’s current problems are having on addiction sufferers. There are desperate people who need contact with people who care. They need guidance and people with which to discuss their issues. With that in mind, here are a couple of ways the COVID-19 is changing the way addiction counselors deliver addiction treatment services.
Telemedicine and Addiction Treatment
Over the past few years, medical health professionals have been offering telemedicine consultations to their patients. The results have been positive because it allows doctors to meet with more patients in a day. It also cuts down the physician’s costs and office traffic.
For the patients, it eliminates the need to commute for appointments. If the discussion indicates a possible significant health issue, the doctor will schedule a face to face appointment. As for prescription medications, doctors can usually coordinate that with local pharmacies.
In compliance with social distancing standards, addiction treatment professionals are starting to use the same process for therapy sessions. With the right smartphone applications, videoconferencing, and web-based tools, they can get face to face time with clients while clients remain safe at home.
While this option is proving to be popular and effective, it acts as an outpatient option. As such, it’s not always the best option for clients with severe addictions to hardcore substances like heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. In such cases, residential treatment could still be necessary.
A New Way of Delivering Residential Treatment Services
Due in large part to the high number of COVID-19 deaths occurring in assisted care living facilities, the addiction treatment community is reevaluating the way it delivers residential treatment services.
It would appear there is going to be more emphasis on shorting the time clients remain inhouse, sending them into outpatient, even telemedicine, programs after a certain level of progress. Rehab facilities are also looking into the benefits of having fewer residential clients, enabling therapists to spend more one on one time with the clients who need the most help.
It’s near impossible to anticipate how long these new procedures will stay in place when the pandemic becomes manageable. It would seem a good bet that telemedicine programs may well be a trend that sticks.