The Importance of In-Person Addiction and Alcoholism Treatment During the COVID 19 – Pandemic
There have been many mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased depression, anxiety and exacerbations of PTSD as a result of isolation, changes in lifestyle and fear. Along with increases in suicidality and domestic abuse; one of the most dangerous mental health effects of the pandemic has been increased substance abuse.1 Along with all the dangerous effects of substance abuse there have been “an increasing number of reports from national state and local media” including New York of “an increase in in opioid and other drug related mortality”.2
The cause of increased substance abuse are many. More people are using illicit drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms or to “self medicate”. Boredom, unemployment, as well as lack of structure in school and work are all triggers to increase alcohol and drug use. Traditional forms of treatment have been all but shut down, with many 12-step meetings and traditional outpatient programs going to “zoom”. Many mental health practitioners are unavailable for in person treatment, and many residential rehabs are full.
Addiction and alcoholism thrive in isolation, and the pandemic has done all but assured that most people in New York are much more isolated. Although Telehealth is better than nothing at all when it comes to addiction treatment, we have found the results are much greater when in-person treatment is available. The limitations of a Telepsychiatry or “zoom meeting” are well established by now.
At Fifth Avenue Psychiatry, we have taken appropriate measures to provide in – person outpatient treatment for addiction and alcoholism. Our offices have good ventilation through open windows and air-purification systems. Our staff have seen the positive results of in person meetings and in balancing the health needs of our patients have agreed to provide “live” treatment. We provide counseling, medication management for depression, anxiety and OCD and PTSD, as well as outpatient detoxification for alcoholism and opioid dependence. MAT is available for opioid use disorders, including Suboxone and Vivitrol. For more information please call 212-734-0506.
- Czeisler MÉ , Lane RI, Petrosky E, et al. Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1049–1057. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6932a1.
- Reports of increases in opioid- and other drug-related overdose and other concerns during COVID pandemic , American Medical Association, Issue Brief, October 6, 2020.