At the end of March, as the Covid-19 virus spread rapidly across the USA, we were strongly advised to stay-at-home. It was an unprecedent action that put everything – business, education, entertainment, travel – at a standstill and dramatically changed our way of life. Within the first week, more than six million people registered for unemployment. The latest figures from the Department of Labor signify that close to 44 million Americans have lost their jobs since the US economy shut down in mid-March . Even more traumatizing for many was the cessation of in-person gatherings and social relationships, forcing the practice of social distancing to the point that many people’s home environment became a threat to their wellbeing.
On May 4th 2020, the Washington Post wrote that, “three months into the coronavirus pandemic, America is on the verge of another health crisis, with daily doses of death, isolation and fear generating widespread psychological trauma.” Major crises like the attack on World Trade Center (2001), Hurricane Katrina (2005) and now the pandemic COVID-19 are understood to cause stress and mental health problems for all of us, particularly among the most vulnerable.
People with current or previous histories of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) fall into this category. The feeling of loneliness or being useless, the lack of access of social groups and emotional support are factors that exacerbate the challenges encountered by people with anxieties, sleep disturbances, frustrations and phobias. Another study cites early data showing 1 in 3 respondents report a disruption in treatment and sobriety services and another 4% of respondents report an overdose since isolation began – a startling statistic for mental health professionals.
However, mental health professionals have anticipated the need for residential treatment during this time. In April 2020, Wellbridge surveyed 102 healthcare professionals who treat patients suffering from substance use disorders to understand how their approach to addiction treatment has evolved in the COVID environment. Results showed that although Clinicians are treating more individuals virtually as outpatients, they continue to refer patients to residential facilities and indicated the facility’s COVID-19 protocols were very important.
In fact, 47% reported that the frequency or pattern of their referrals has not changed and 12% answered that they are more likely to be referring their patients to residential treatment centers at this time.
Another interesting finding from this survey is that 53% of respondents are considering new residential treatment facilities during this time.
As many states move into extended isolation measures, it is clear that industry professionals see the need for high quality residential care and are continuing to refer, especially to treatment centers that have implemented appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols .
With the increased and urgent need for high-standards of care due to the COVID-19 impact on addiction, Wellbridge opened our doors early to provide high-quality care in the comforts of a new facility. Knowing that COVID-19 is still in full swing, we implemented strict safety standards and processes to put the health and safety of our patients first. This includes in-home COVID-19 testing for prospective patients, in partnership with Northwell Health.
We have yet to measure the total impact that this latest crisis will have on our society, but we know that it is something that we are going to endure for years to come. As a whole we will require – and hopefully demand – more innovative, evidence-based solutions to address and alleviate the newly emerging or, in some cases, increasing incidence of substance use disorder. Wellbridge is dedicated to working with industry experts and mental health professionals to deliver the highest quality of care – science based and patient focused.