COVID-19 has affected everyone from all walks of life, so it’s no surprise that it’s had a huge impact on drug and alcohol abuse treatment. Many of those suffering from addiction are left wondering how they can manage rehab and coronavirus safely together.
What is COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?
COVID-19, which stands for Coronavirus Disease-2019, is an upper respiratory illness caused by an infection with novel coronavirus. Scientists believe this virus was already present in bats, which by consumption infected humans in November 2019 in Wuhan, China.
COVID-19 can have a range of symptoms. The most common symptoms include fever and a dry cough, but it differs from person to person. Some people are asymptomatic, which means they don’t have any symptoms at all. Others develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, which can cause organ failure, septic shock and death.
Coronavirus spreads through the air when people are close together. The virus travels through small droplets when people breathe, cough, sneeze, etc. Symptoms usually start within 14 days, and you can infect others before you start having symptoms. This has made the virus hard to contain.
There is no cure for COVID-19, and treatment is based on supporting the body and easing symptoms. There is no vaccine available, but several are in development.
Will the Coronavirus Impact Addiction Treatment?
- Testing all patients before admission
- Regularly testing staff
- Daily temperature checks
- Regularly cleaning the facility and supplies
- Social distancing and face masks when appropriate
- Hand washing stations throughout the facility
Above all, both the rehab center and its patients have to stay aware of their health and keep others in mind. Anyone who feels sick or thinks they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should be upfront about it. This helps the facility isolate anyone at risk and stop the spread.
How Has Addiction Treatment Changed With The Coronavirus?
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many rehab facilities were forced to temporarily close their doors in order to contain the spread. Now that they’ve reopened, they’ve had to adapt their treatment methods.
Residential Inpatient Treatment
When it comes to residential treatment, this usually means lower admissions. Centers may cut the number of open beds by 25-50%. This decreases the number of people in the facility and allows for more social distancing. You may get a room all to yourself when you would otherwise have a roommate, and group therapy will probably be more spread out and require everyone to be at least six feet apart. This makes it harder for the virus to infect people. Plus, with fewer people, the facility can more easily keep track of people’s health.
Unfortunately, visitation has to be limited too. It’s important to have your family involved in the treatment process, though, so you will most likely have regular contact through video call. You may even have counseling sessions where your family members call in to join you.
Outpatient & Aftercare Treatment
Outpatient treatment has changed even more. In most cases, you won’t even come into the rehab facility. Instead, you can take advantage of teletherapy and telehealth. By video call, you can still have rewarding, productive counseling sessions without exposing yourself or others to COVID-19. Most patients thrive in this environment.
If you do prefer physically coming to the facility for counseling, there may be limited slots. You can do this with a mix of teletherapy to limit exposure. When you come in, you’ll have to do a health check and wear a face mask when required.
Should I Hold Off Treatment Due to the Coronavirus?
No one can tell you exactly what’s best for your personal situation. For many, the need for treatment outweighs the risks of COVID-19. This is actually because drug or alcohol abuse can increase the chances of contracting coronavirus.
Addiction can force people into risky situations where they may be exposed. These situations rarely have the safety measures and hygiene of a professional drug treatment center. For instance, those who suffer from addiction are more likely to be homeless or incarcerated, and they’re less likely to have access to regular medical care. These factors put people in close quarters and unsanitary conditions. In this case, these people would be safer in rehab.
Additionally, drug and alcohol abuse can put people at higher risk for ARDS and COVID-19 complications. Drugs like opioids and meth can make the lungs more vulnerable to infection, and that’s exactly where coronavirus hits. Drugs and alcohol can also lower immune system function. In this case, people need to treat their addiction to take back their health.
You will have to consider your personal situation. If you are concerned about the close contact in residential treatment, contact your rehab center to see what social distancing measures they have implemented. You might also consider outpatient teletherapy. Either way, addiction is also a major threat to your health, and you shouldn’t put off addressing it. Call Northeast Addictions Treatment Center today to learn about your options.