Effectively Navigating the COVID-19 Reopening
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For many individuals, it has felt like forever since they were able to sit outside at their favorite coffee shop, shop in their favorite small store, get their hair done, see friends and attend small social events. Summer is upon us, and this reopening may be a time of relief for many as well as a newfound sense of freedom. People may be experiencing a lift in their mood and in their sense of hope. However, for others, this time may be stress and fear producing. Some people have been embracing the stay-at-home orders and have not made many changes since they were originally put in place in March. Everyone has unique circumstances and emotions regarding the COVID-19 prevention restrictions as well as differing levels of risk management. Some people are transitioning smoothly to less restrictive stages of various state COVID-19 policies. While others are feeling an increase in fear around COVID-19 exposure since they can now go to more businesses and socialize. For those who live with or have a more vulnerable loved one, this time of reopening may lead to increased stress.
Individuals who suffer from health anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with a focus in germs, hypochondriasis, and other mood issues are all vulnerable to worsening symptoms during this time of change. Additionally, those who are in recovery from Substance-Use Disorders have been isolated from social events and may now and in the near future have to navigate these events again. Research indicates that there has been an increase in people drinking and using substances at home during the lockdown. In contrast, there are people who tend to use substances in more social environments, which they have not been exposed to for several months. Summer can also be a time for those with seasonal mood symptoms to experience a “high” that can also lead to a temptation towards substance usage to enhance or celebrate this boosted feeling state. Having a In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) team of providers can be the additional support that those in early recovery need during this time of transition and change.
Many self-help group meetings have been held via Zoom as well as therapy, psychiatry, recovery coaching and case management sessions. The change to remote engagement has been positive for some individuals who have been attending more meetings than when they were in person. For others, they will welcome the return to in-person interactions and have difficulty focusing when on remote meetings or do not feel the same sense of interpersonal connection. Either way, the IHAT treatment team will be able to support clients in adjusting to a new individualized and optimal schedule for meetings and clinical services.
The In-Home Addiction Treatment Institute (IHATI) is training healthcare professionals in a unique and adaptable In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) Model that can support clients in navigating these challenging times. This model is also extremely adaptable to the trend towards telemedicine during COVID-19 and is still able to deliver the same comprehensive care to individuals in their homes. All of the past and ongoing shifts in the healthcare industry that have taken place as a result of COVID-19 make this a perfect time to learn how to administer this innovative model of addiction treatment.
By: Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC