As the response intensifies to the coronavirus pandemic, we mustn’t forget about the people among us struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. Many in this population have made great strides in recovery with the help of Medication-Assisted treatment. Medicines such as Suboxone and the like suppress craving for harmful substances and allow addicted patients to abstain and begin healing.
Concern is growing about filling subscriptions in general and these essential medications for our community as well.
Outpatient substance abuse addiction facilities are facing major obstacles in remaining open. As the virus spreads, staff are unable to come in. Appropriate screening for Covid-19 is needed to admit patients and is obviously a great strain on workers. Their ability to service those who desperately need them are severely compromised.
Many individuals struggling with substance abuse disorder are also dealing with homelessness and incarceration. Their fluid housing situations can create specific challenges in battling transmission. Social distancing in some cases is impossible and they don’t have the luxury of a stocked freezer.
Let’s discuss ways we can help those at risk in the addiction recovery community.
- Prescription Refills
It is difficult to know how long Covid-19 will disrupt our lives. There may be impending shortages of prescription drugs as drug manufacturers deal with the crisis. It is important to stock up if you can. At the same time, it is important to be responsible. Hoarding unnecessarily can lead to shortages and hurt other people in need.
The federal government is working on insurance waivers to allow people to extend their 30-day window. In some cases, 90-day orders are possible. Co-pays may be lighter. Do some research on what waivers are available for you and your loved ones.
Many times, medications like Suboxone are the difference between life and death. We must do all we can to make sure that those who need it are not forgotten in the long shadow of coronavirus.
Here is a link to some of the measures Insurers have been taking in their response to Covid-19.
- Therapy sessions
Like much of the world, drug abuse facilities and addiction counselors have been taking advantage of video and teleconferencing. More than ever, people with addiction need to be able to access their therapists and sessions. Loneliness can be a dangerous relapse trigger. One of the tools available is Doxy.me. It is an easy to use HIPPA compliant video conferencing site. Reach out to those in need and get them this info. It can save lives.
Here is a short tutorial on how to get started.
- Staff appreciation
The professionals staffing drug and alcohol facilities are dealing with the same challenges we all are. Many of them do not have the opportunity to work at home. They understand that while coronavirus is a threat, it does not mitigate the urgent help people with addiction need. Lives are at risk and treatment cannot be just shut down.
Many of them are working through the uncertainty and coming to work. They are carrying people. If you know someone who is answering the bell heroically, shoot them a text. Encourage them and express your admiration. They deserve it and it can go a long way.
- If you know someone with SUD that is alone, Reach out!
A degree of anxiety is common for everybody in this situation. For someone with SUD a phone call could be a lifeline. Make sure they know there is someone looking out of them. If we can wash our hands every few minutes (and we should!) we can call a friend or a loved one every hour. Put a smile on their face, make them laugh. Feeling loved will give them the resolve not to give in!
- Be creative
Find out if they have a neighbor that can check in. Encourage them to get the supplies they need. Look around to see if there is a clinic or a clinician in your area that can give you advice. There is much that can be accomplished if we put our minds to it.
In these uncertain times one thing is certain. Human beings are capable of greatness. We can help each other and those less fortunate. Many people in recovery are heroes and need just a shot of love to stay the course and overcome this new challenge.
We can be here for them. We can save a life. Each one of us.