Treating Substance Use Disorders During the Pandemic and Beyond: Q&A With Expert from The Recovery Village

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May 21, 2020


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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost all areas of American life. These changes have dramatically increased feelings of uncertainty, stress, anxiety and isolation. They also pose specific threats for substance abuse and addiction recovery by reducing access to healthcare, medication-assisted treatment and recovery support group meetings. A recent survey shows an increased drug and alcohol use among U.S. adults, indicating that stress and mental health issues are on the rise.  

The Recovery Village at Baptist Health is helping meet the needs of those struggling with addiction during the pandemic and beyond. As Stacey Henson, LCSW, ACSW, from The Recovery Village, explains in the following Q & A, highly skilled teams at three South Florida facilities provide comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for substance abuse, eating disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders.

What is the first step to take if a person feels he or she has an addiction or substance abuse problem?
The first step is to reach out for help. This may mean calling a treatment facility like The Recovery Village at Baptist Health, talking to a family member or consulting a doctor or mental health counselor. Acknowledging that there may be a problem is a powerful first step in the right direction.

What does the treatment process look like?
While each individual’s treatment process will vary, we know that rehab for drug or alcohol addiction tends to be most effective when patients can successfully detox, build coping skills, gain personal insight and then gradually transition throughout multiple levels of care. For this reason, The Recovery Village offers medical detox, residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and outpatient services, all managed by an experienced treatment team. Many patients start in a more intense, highly structured level of care, like medical detox or inpatient care, and then transition to a more flexible, less supervised level of care, like a partial hospitalization program or an outpatient program. The progression enables them to develop necessary relapse prevention strategies and the confidence to continue living their daily life in recovery.

How do I know which treatment option is best for me?
We help patients understand the treatment options available. Then, a comprehensive clinical assessment administered by a licensed professional is the best way to determine the appropriate level of care. Once the individual commits to treatment, we will work together to develop a personalized treatment plan.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the available treatment options? 
Our treatment centers have remained open at all levels of care during the coronavirus pandemic. To protect our patients and employees, we have implemented many safety measures, including adding screening policies, restricting visitation, suspending offsite activities, increasing our normal cleaning and disinfecting procedures and emphasizing CDC and WHO recommendations regarding hand washing, face coverings and personal contact (like handshakes or hugs).

Does insurance cover the cost of drug or alcohol rehab?
In many cases, insurance can help offset the cost of drug or alcohol rehab. Coverage varies greatly from policy to policy and provider to provider, so it’s always best to contact the insurance company directly to understand policy coverage.

Why is medically supervised detox so important?
Medical detox is often a crucial first step in recovery because the withdrawal process can be very uncomfortable if someone has developed a physical or psychological dependence. In some cases, it can even have life-threatening consequences. Withdrawal is also a powerful relapse trigger for those attempting to abstain from a substance. Completing medical detox gives the patient a safe, clinically monitored place and access to medication-assisted treatment (where appropriate) to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Does inpatient treatment come after detox? How long does it last?
In many cases, inpatient treatment will start after successfully completing detox. Patients participating in an inpatient treatment program will live onsite at a rehab facility in a supportive and supervised environment. The length-of-stay varies based upon the individual’s treatment needs and levels of care attended.

What is outpatient treatment? 
In outpatient treatment, patients are responsible for managing their day-to-day lives alongside their substance use disorder. Patients have access to psychotherapy, psychiatric services and medical care, usually on a scheduled basis. It is the least supervised level of care available and can be undertaken on its own or as a “step-down” after completing a more intense level of care. Patients in this level of care participate in treatment on a part-time basis while living at home or in a sober living facility. The flexibility of outpatient treatment allows clients to practice recovery skills while still receiving professional support.

Is teletherapy an option for drug or alcohol rehab? How does teletherapy differ from in-person therapy?
While some treatment options require in-person participation, teletherapy can be an effective, secure and convenient way to start or continue addiction treatment. We currently offer Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient and Outpatient services through The Recovery Village Telehealth App. The biggest difference between in-person therapy and teletherapy is that the patient is not in the same physical location as the therapist. Teletherapy has broadened our scope of treatment and accessibility to patients and is perfect for those who are comfortable using technology to communicate or simply enjoy the convenience.

How can loved ones be involved in the treatment and recovery process?
Family members and friends can play a powerful role in their loved one’s recovery journey, starting with the decision to enter treatment. Family members can encourage their loved one to complete treatment, participate in family therapy, set or enforce new healthy boundaries, work to improve communication and start rebuilding trust. It’s important to remember that getting sober is just the first step in the process. A patient’s support system will be vital to maintaining recovery after completing treatment.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse and co-occurring mental health concerns, The Recovery Village at Baptist Health can help. The first step is to contact a compassionate intake coordinator, many of whom are in recovery themselves, to learn more about addiction, treatment options and the recovery process.

Locations:

  • The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health
    4905 Lantana Rd
    Lake Worth, Florida
  • The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health Outpatient Center
    841 S. Congress Ave.
    Atlantis, Florida
  • The Recovery Village Miami at Baptist Health Outpatient Center
    8585 Sunset Dr Suite 202
    Miami, Florida

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