The prevention efforts surrounding COVID-19 have led to various changes in the way that addiction treatment services and support are delivered. The most notable change is that many services are being delivered remotely through telehealth. While the addiction and mental health care field are fortunate to have the technology to offer this option, there are both benefits and drawbacks to this modality.
One of the challenges has been that certain types of addiction treatment are easier to deliver remotely than others. The In-Home Addiction Treatment model has been able to easily transition to having the treatment teams provide telehealth to their clients. This flexible model also allows clients to live at home while receiving comprehensive treatment, care coordination and family systems support. In fact, telehealth can be an advantage for some clients who have hectic schedules, travel for work, are caretaking children, live in areas without adequate resources, inhabit rural areas and more. Therefore, it would make sense for addiction healthcare professionals to attend the In-Home Addiction Treatment Institute (IHATI) and learn how to implement this innovative model.
COVID-19 is leading addiction treatment professionals to rethink the way that they have been delivering services and what will be the most efficient and effective way to move forward. The aftershock from COVID-19 will remain for sometime, but there are other reasons why clients may need to utilize telehealth in the future including but not limited to: illness, traveling for work, lack of childcare, busy schedule, loss of license or lack of transportation. There are also strategies for staying connected to clients who you are not meeting with regularly in person that the IHATI model has mastered. Some clients are also reporting that they are attending therapy sessions and even self-help meetings more consistently because of the convenience. They are also enjoying being able to attend meetings in various areas of the country remotely.
Recent research indicates that the addiction and mental health fallout from this pandemic is and will continue to be significant. The aftershock will be felt in many aspects of life including health, socially, economically and psychologically. Therefore, addiction treatment professionals need to be equipped with as many tools as possible to reach existing and new clients so that they receive the comprehensive care that they so desperately need and deserve.
By: Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC