The recent Covid surge is once again making a lot of us feel anxious about our physical and mental health. This anxiety may well prevent people from seeking help for addiction because they’re worried about contracting Covid while in treatment.
Don’t let that stop you.
Thanks to rigorous Covid protocols, addiction treatment centers are some of the safest places you can be.
Where we are now with Covid and addiction
We’ve learned a lot about the Covid-addiction connection since the pandemic started, and some of it is alarming. Here are the facts:
- Addiction and the mood disorders that often go along with addiction (namely depression and anxiety) are now known to be pre-existing conditions that increase Covid risk.
- Research published in JAMA Psychiatry this past July shows that people with untreated addictions and mental health disorders are more likely to die or become very ill if they contract Covid.
- The isolation and loneliness caused by physical distancing led to an increase in addictions, relapses, and overdoses during Covid—and that is likely continuing during the Delta surge.
For all those reasons, it is vital to get help now if you need it.
Treatment centers can be safe havens from Covid
Even during non-Covid times, people are often anxious and hesitant about seeking addiction treatment. I understand that. It’s a big step. During Covid, these anxieties have increased even more for many people who are considering treatment.
To help you or a loved one get past that hesitancy, here are some specific things that leading addiction facilities are doing to keep people safe:
- We have comprehensive protocols in place regarding frequent testing of patients and staff, quarantining of new or Covid-exposed patients, cleaning and sanitizing all rooms and surfaces, mask-wearing, and physical distancing.
- Many of us stayed ahead of the curve on CDC guidelines. At physician-led treatment centers, providers are often well trained in internal medicine and how infections spread. We also follow supplemental guidance from state health departments and other authorities that add to what we are hearing from the CDC.
- We didn’t relent and lower our safety standards earlier in 2021 when vaccinations ramped up and infection rates declined. In the addiction treatment field, the great majority of us stayed the course, and today we remain determined to safeguard our patients, families, and staff.
- Many of us never closed during the pandemic—not because we didn’t want to, but because we didn’t need to. At my place of work, for example, the incidence of positive cases was extremely low, even when the pandemic raged last winter.
- The addiction treatment field has been on a mission from Day One of Covid to do well for our patients and families because they depend on us at all times. This battle against addiction is life and death, and we have to get it right even when there’s a pandemic raging.
An important point about vaccinations
Addiction treatment providers do not see Covid and addiction as mutually exclusive priorities. In caring for one pandemic (addiction), in no way do we put people at risk for the other pandemic (Covid). We believe you can and should fight both of these pandemics at the same time.
Treatment centers offer vaccinations to all patients, mandate vaccinations for all staff, and offer vaccinations to center graduates, loved ones of patients, and all other affiliated members of the community who need them. Many other centers around the country are doing the same with vaccinations.
If you or a loved one has a drug or alcohol problem and you need help, don’t let the fear of Covid stop you from taking action. Addiction treatment centers are safer than ever these days, so if you need addiction help, please get that help as soon as possible.
Fond, Guillaume et al. (2021). Association Between Mental Health Disorders and Mortality Among Patients With COVID-19 In 7 Countries. JAMA Psychiatry.