Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the nation’s news headlines, there was another epidemic that was plaguing the United States – addiction. The battle against addiction impacts over 21 million Americans annually and has not slowed down during the COVID-19 crisis.
Although social distancing has helped to slow the spread of COVID-19, it has also harmed individuals struggling with substance addiction. In response, Free By The Sea, one of the nation’s top experts in alcohol and drug addiction treatment, have sculpted their procedures to help individuals through these challenging times.
Substance addiction is a very complicated disease. The federal restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have placed obstacles in obtaining substances due to bars closing and stay at home orders. But still, substance abuse’s underlying causes remain. Additionally, even with bars being forced to close, the U.S. alcoholic beverage sales have seen a significant increase in purchases up to 500% during the lockdown.
The Decline in Mental Health Due to the Pandemic
Stress caused by this global pandemic has accelerated underlying emotional and mental issues that fuel substance addiction. Isolation, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, and depression (which are all mental health conditions linked to substance abuse) are growing for many as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our team at Free By The Sea understands that, currently, more individuals are in search of help because of job insecurity or job loss. The combination of isolation with financial stress makes it more likely for a patient in recovery to relapse.
The lifestyle changes that were caused by social distancing precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in individuals looking for substance addiction treatment. Fortunately, Free By The Sea is here to assist anybody struggling with substance abuse. Our team is available 24/7, even during this social distancing lockdown pandemic.
Substance addiction was an epidemic way before COVID-19, and will likely continue to be long after this pandemic is over. Although the challenges of remaining healthy for drug and alcohol addicts during this pandemic stay the same, the consequences of relapse could be much more severe.
How COVID-19 Has Impacted Addiction
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on many aspects of substance addiction. For example, the enforcement of curfews and social distancing guidelines made it challenging for many users to acquire substances. Similarly, the closing of restaurants and bars has also limited opportunities for most to drink socially, although alcohol is still available in many stores.
Even though the pandemic has put obstacles in the way of acquiring drugs, it has not put an end to addiction. It also has not treated any underlying causes behind drug use. As a matter of fact, these obstacles could actually add to an addict’s depression when they’re unable to acquire their drug of choice.
For most people, COVID-19 has only added to the underlying mental and emotional issues that caused their addiction. We already know that boredom, isolation, depression, stress, and loneliness all become issues for many as a result of the impact of COVID-19. All these issues being so closely linked with drug abuse become a combination of a fierce trigger that may drive individuals to use or drink again or to do so more heavily.
How Addiction Has Impacted COVID-19
Substance addiction has a very significant impact on spreading COVID-19, as well as the progression of the disease. When an individual starts abusing substances, especially alcohol, it impairs their judgment and decision-making. It also alters their ability to gauge risk factors accurately. Due to this cause, individuals might not follow social distancing guidelines and may help contribute to the spread of the virus.
Males, especially in countries like China and Italy, have much significantly higher rates of hospitalization and death than females do. One theory behind this is the fact that males demonstrate significantly higher rates of smoking than females do in these countries. However, it should be noted that it seems that males and females are infected at approximately equal proportions.
It is believed that the long-term respiratory damage that smoking causes will weaken smokers and leave them more vulnerable to COVID-19. It isn’t entirely clear whether this also applies to other drugs that can be smoked, such as meth, crack cocaine, and marijuana, but the chances could be likely.
Additionally, intravenous drug use, such as shooting up heroin or other opioids, has been known to dramatically increase the risk of heart infections. This can also make individuals more susceptible to the severe effects of COVID-19.
How Isolation and Loneliness Can Trigger Recovering Individuals
Studies prove that individuals who feel more socially isolated will also experience increased substance abuse and mental health issues. The combination of loneliness and isolation has an overwhelming effect on individuals, especially the ones with alcohol and drug addiction.
Addiction to alcohol and drugs might not be due to isolation. But, regardless of the drive behind the reason or reasons behind the drive, during these isolated times due to COVID-19, substance addiction and rehab check-in numbers have also grown exponentially.
A majority of users may turn to substance use because they are lonely, and many find themselves lonely because of their addiction. As addiction progresses, sufferers may lose friends. They may experience damaged relationships with loved ones. These issues can leave the user feeling mentally, physically, and spiritually alone.
During this time of isolation due to COVID-19, the loneliness combined with addiction is leaving individuals with these feelings:
- Left out
Life is not easy when you are new to a sober and recovery lifestyle. A critical barrier to break during addiction treatment recovery is the ability to beat the feelings of loneliness and isolation. So, rehab centers across the nation are practicing alternative, contactless methods, including telehealth services.
This service allows members throughout other rehab centers across the country to connect during these isolating times. After all, as humans, we are social creatures and we need each other to survive.
So, if you or a loved one is experiencing loneliness and isolation during recovery, allow our team at Free By The Sea to help break the cycle of solitude and emptiness that this global stay-at-home order has triggered.
The Importance of Telehealth Services During COVID-19
Addiction treatment rehab facilities present as a priority setting for telemedicine service. Due to addiction being a chronic disorder, doctors and clinicians require a method to keep in touch with patients in between physician visits.
Because telemedicine defies distance and time, it has a high potential for changing treatment and recovery for individuals experiencing substance use disorders. Telemedicine also gives medical personnel opportunities to increase contact with addiction patients during their treatment process.
Telemedicine, also knows as telehealth, gives patients immediate access to medical services. It also can provide the necessary support when the patient is outside of a therapeutic atmosphere and need help with a craving or trigger to use addictive substances.
Telehealth applications can send health information from place to place and establish new connections between patients and their providers. The platform does more than just give patients the feeling that their health is being monitored more closely; they’ll also be able to communicate more about their treatment program, and know that their doctor hasn’t forgotten them, especially during these isolating times.
There are multiple needs and uses for telehealth assisting with addiction recovery, especially in these lonely and isolating times. A vital element of telehealth communication is due to its ability to remove barriers.
By removing the geography barriers, telehealth can allow instant access to addiction treatment services including for the following examples:
- Patients who must drive a long distance are able to now receive addiction treatment services at their residence or their local health care provider.
- Patients are able to avoid the embarrassing stigma of being recognized and referred to as an addiction treatment patient.
- Counselors might not available when needed most–like at nighttime when the patient is feeling lonely and isolated. Telehealth services help to lengthen the providers’ availability and give patients prompt support when cravings and triggers happen.
- Patients still have the ability to seek or reach out to addiction specialists during isolating times due to COVID-19.
Utilizing Telemedicine in Addiction Treatment During Covid-19
Face-to-face interactions between providers and patients are the primary way therapists and counselors have undertaken substance abuse treatment therapy. Although in-person visits have proved to be effective, telemedicine offers a technological outlook on substance abuse treatment therapy. So, how do healthcare providers apply telemedicine to addiction treatment services? Here are some examples:
Using Telehealth Complements Services
Once an in-person relationship has been established between physician and patient, telemedicine can help with maintaining the relationship. It is encouraged for interventional communications and progress updates as well.
A majority of telehealth programs have been built around addiction treatment. Many include behavioral health components, serving as a remote platform for therapy to help improve the impact of in-person therapy.
Patients Have a Sense of Control
Telemedicine will give assurance to patients by letting them know their health is in good hands. Patients are interviewed on what they feel is useful and what they wished they could have changed. By talking to patients in their comfortable environments, this gives them the ability to be ambitious about their personal health decisions and gives encouragement to reach out to their therapist if needed.
Chart and Act When Needed
Patients have the ability to update their providers about their current conditions fast and easy. When using telemedicine for check-ins regularly, physicians find it easier to get a complete reading of their patient’s daily lifestyle and are able to act on problems more quickly. The best chance of success is to address issues before they start.
Understanding Patient Comorbidity
Treating multiple health issues simultaneously is a challenge. A majority of substance addictions stem from physical and mental health conditions. Telehealth is a helpful tool for any type of constant care. The platform serves as another way to maintain consistent care and halt any conditions from progressing.
Combine Tracking and Action
When used regularly, telehealth can help create healthy behavior patterns for patients. The combination of tracking and action along with the continuity of care allows patients to see how treatment can help. Telehealth systems also have essential behavior-based programs and apps that show patients how to take back control of their lifestyle.
Once new, healthier habits develop based on connectedness and communication, patients will benefit from more encouragement and consistent communication.
Don’t Let COVID-19 Keep you From Seeking Addiction Treatment
- Addicts pose a greater risk of contracting the virus – Substance users typically have a compromised immune system. This can leave users at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19. Here at Free By The Sea, we understand the difficulty in seeking treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. But we don’t want that to keep you from getting the help needed.
- Dangers of detoxing without medical supervision – The thought of going through withdrawals during the detoxification process can create massive fear and anxiety. To detox at home without proper medical supervision may even put the addict at a higher risk of death than COVID-19 poses. It is essential to detox under the supervision of a medical addiction treatment center.
- Isolation feeds off addiction – During these isolating times, addiction is on the rise from higher use of drugs to alcohol. Take this time to break the triggers that come from isolation but also to get back to being with peers while getting better and keeping up with social distancing guidelines. With our individual and group therapy sessions offered in both in-person or telehealth service daily, the feeling of isolation will finally disappear.
For those who are considering addiction treatment right now, know that our facility follows federal and state guidelines to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak. We are implementing procedures and protocols to keep current with that standard. We also take pride in our medical staff who come to our treatment center daily and help oversee patients while keeping consistent with COVID-19 standards of interacting with patients.
Taking Care of Our Team and Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic
With more of the COVID-19 outbreak news unfolding, our team here at Free By The Sea has taken the appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of our patients and frontline workers. Our team is doing everything possible as an accredited addiction treatment center to provide our patients to have access to addiction treatment services during this time.
Some other ways Free By The Sea is protecting patients during the COVID-19 pandemic include:
- We have nursing staff on hand 24/7 to assist with completing daily necessary tests for all patients and staff members at all care levels.
- Our intake process has been restructured, so all new patients checking in will be accepted in a separate building where the patients can detox under medical supervision.
- Our housekeeping and facilities departments have added additional disinfectant measures along with their already detailed cleaning procedure.
- Our facility has also implemented telehealth options to keep social distance guidelines intact.
- Group therapy sessions are held outdoors when the weather permits.
- Non-essential staff members have restricted access to patient areas and wellness facilities to help limit any possibilities on exposure.
- Face-to-face visitations and family sessions and have been moved to virtual conferencing platforms to keep up with social distancing.
We feel that at the end of the day, regardless of the COVID-19, addiction is a disease, and it is essential that regardless of someone’s location, we can still provide help and treatment that is needed. Our team remains vigilant in the ability to provide a place where individuals seeking treatment can have a safe, COVID-19 free experience to get back to a sober and healthy lifestyle.
Free By The Sea offers a hospital-like setting with a full-time credentialed medical staff on-site 24/7. We treat the safety and health of our patients as a top priority.
Contact Free By The Sea Today
At Free By The Sea, we believe that the COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t hinder recovery from alcohol and drug and addiction. Our professional medical addiction treatment specialists have years of experience helping patients suffering from all types of addiction and mental health disorders.
Free By The Sea continues to following federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by ensuring we provide the framework for achieving quality outcomes for the addiction community we serve.
To those who are currently seeking treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, reach out to our team at Free By The Sea immediately and allow us to get you the answers you seek. Addiction is a severe disease that is recognized globally and, during this worldwide pandemic, many individuals require treatment more than ever. Whether this is your first time getting addiction treatment or you are in need of help again, we are here to help. Contact us today and allow Free By The Sea to help you on your journey to recovery.