Individuals struggling with substance use disorder are often in and out of addiction treatment centers. Some are in correctional facilities or homeless shelters. During this trying period of COVID-19, most outpatient centers are closing. Patients of drug and alcohol abuse are seeking treatment from residential facilities. There is a need for these facilities to ensure safety at rehab and ensure the patients do not contract the virus. One option for treatment during the pandemic is through telehealth services. These services include video conferencing and other virtual options for addiction therapy sessions.
Most people are now aware of the coronavirus pandemic that is wreaking havoc in the public health centers around the world. The number of people affected by the pandemic continues to increase each day. Vulnerable populations face higher risks and unique challenges. Statistics show that are around 14.4 million adults in the United States have drug addiction problems, which can put them at increased risk for complications from COVID-19 and other diseases.
Addiction Treatment Through Telehealth Services
Some individuals with substance use disorder have underlying conditions such as liver, kidney, and heart disease. This puts them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Many of these patients do not have access to the health services and medicine they need to boost their immune systems. As many people know, the coronavirus attacks the respiratory system. The virus can cause deadly effects on individuals who smoke tobacco. People struggling with opioid use disorder are prone to respiratory failure or even death.
Patients with addiction problems face stigmatization in many communities. They get less attention and are less likely to get quality treatment even for COVID-19. Social distancing is a great challenge for this group of people. Many turn to drug use due to loneliness or depression. Social distancing puts them at a higher risk of abusing drugs even more. The best option for them is telehealth services, through which individuals can receive treatment remotely. By connecting with a therapist or support group, these individuals can receive help while still social distancing.
Measures to Ensure Safety at Rehab
Residential treatment centers need to implement some changes in their operations to ensure the patients stay safe from coronavirus while at rehab, including offering telehealth services.
Some of these implementations include:
- Screening before arrival: All individuals entering the rehab center should undergo screening for coronavirus symptoms. These symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, and fever. People should enter the facility one by one without crowding to prevent infections.
- Ensure adequate access to medication: For patients that need to pick up medications from the facility every day, the center should release the medications to their homes. This reduces their vulnerability to contract the virus. It also protects those in rehab.
- Adapt individual therapy models: Behavioral therapies are essential in the treatment and recovery of addiction patients. Rehab centers will have to get rid of group therapy sessions at this time to reduce congregations.
- Waiting room precautions: Put up signs on cough etiquette and hand hygiene at the waiting rooms and around the facility.
- Telehealth services: Treatment facilities need to implement phone visits and telehealth. These services allow less physical contact between the health care providers and the patients.
Telehealth Services During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Most addiction patients may find residential facilities as safe areas during this time. It is the responsibility of health care providers to ensure these patients enjoy safety at rehab. Practitioners in rehab facilities ought to take the necessary precautions to minimize the contraction and spread of COVID-19. By offering telehealth services, these centers can reduce risk while still helping those who struggle with addiction.