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How COVID-19 is Changing Addiction Recovery

Besides our day-to-day lives, the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge effect on addiction treatment. Here are the top ways COVID-19 is changing recovery.

Everyday stress and worries are enough to cause addicts to drink, use drugs, and possibly relapse. Throw in the mountain of stress created by the COVID-19 pandemic – lost jobs, financial troubles, isolation, and limited access to in-person health care – and you have a recipe for disaster.

After all, nobody had time to prepare for COVID-19. With barely any warning at all, people were being told to self-quarantine by staying at home. Many people were furloughed or laid-off from their jobs, or their business closed altogether. Meanwhile, parents were forced to become teachers since schools closed all across the country. Because of this situation, there’s been a notable increase in calls to addiction hotlines.

Though most rehab centers have stayed open, they’ve had to change how they operate to provide essential treatment while preventing the spread of COVID-19. As a result, we’ve seen systemic change. Some experts believe the federal government has done more to change addiction treatment since March than they had in the past 20 years. 

Specifically, we could see many of the changes made in response to COVID-19 become permanent, which would please the numerous advocates who have been pushing for many of these changes for years. In short, post-COVID-19 addiction recovery is certainly different, but in spite of the inherent difficulties, this could end up being a good thing.

Telemedicine

After stay-at-home orders went into effect, many doctors and therapists were given the freedom to evaluate patients and prescribe medication by phone and video conference. Highly regulated addiction medication like methadone no longer required a visit to an addiction center as patients were allowed to receive take-home supplies.

Telemedicine has also provided doctors with real-world insights into the lives of their patients, prompting these doctors to connect patients with housing services for those who were homeless. People in rural areas now have access to addiction treatment and expertise without having to overcome the hurdle of in-person visits.

After allowing people to see doctors and receive prescriptions by phone and video, it will be hard to take these conveniences away. Rehab after COVID-19 will likely include telemedicine.

In-Person Meetings

In-person meetings are critical to recovery. For many addicts, these meetings, readings, studying, and sharing sessions are a lifeline during times of struggle. Because businesses, public buildings, places of worship, and other facilities were forced to close due to COVID-19, many meetings were cancelled. 

Enter virtual recovery meetings. These meetings provide the face-to-face interaction that addicts need without the risk of spreading COVID-19. Whether the meeting is a large group session facilitated by a trained therapist, or a spur-of-the-moment video chat between two addicts, meetings are more convenient and less expensive. That means meetings can be held more frequently.

Remote Detox Centers

Some rehab facilities, unprepared for COVID-19 restrictions, had to temporarily stop new admissions. This led to an increase of overdose-related emergency room visits in March and April. To help addicts with addiction recovery as COVID-19 fears continued to linger, a number of remote detox centers were created.

Addicts could stay at these facilities to receive professional help with withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment. Telemedicine is often used at remote detox centers to evaluate patients who are experiencing severe signs of withdrawal.

Outdoor Treatment

Indoor group therapy is no longer a safe part of rehab during the COVID-19 pandemic. These meetings have moved outside, allowing patients to maintain safe distancing and stick to their treatment schedules while enjoying the natural, therapeutic effect of being outdoors. 

The move outside has also motivated more rehab centers to incorporate experiential therapy into their treatment programs. Experiential therapy goes beyond talking in individual and group therapy, incorporating a wide range of activities that help patients express themselves. While these activities, such as music and the arts, don’t have to occur outside, COVID-19 has pushed many of these activities outdoors.

Sea Change Recovery, offering alcohol and drug rehab in Santa Monica, has long embraced experiential therapy, from surfing to fishing to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Our Adventure Therapy Program takes patients outside to benefit from physical exercise, mental relaxation, and spiritual healing.

Sea Change Recovery Offers Rehab During COVID-19

Because of COVID-19, addiction recovery has changed significantly, relying more on telemedicine, video conferencing, remote detox, and outdoor treatment. There is optimism, however, that these changes will actually improve alcohol and drug rehab after COVID-19 and beyond. 

At Sea Change Recovery in Santa Monica, detox from drug and alcohol abuse is offered in a comfortable, welcoming environment that complies with all COVID-19 guidelines. We’re confident that addiction recovery after the coronavirus will be better than ever.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t let COVID-19 prevent you from seeking help. Contact Sea Change Recovery today.

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