By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC
Throughout our lives we are presented with challenging periods that ebb and flow. This pandemic has been a rare time that we are all sharing a common stressor and experience throughout our country and world. For many, this has been a hard time to manage stress and an easier time to turn to maladaptive coping mechanisms to manage how they are feeling. A recent National Institute of Health study concluded that 60% of participants had an increase in drinking and 13% had a decrease. Those who had begun to drink more attributed it to an increase in stress (45.7%), alcohol availability (34.4%) and boredom (30.1%). Similarly, there was an increase in Alcohol Use Disorders three years following the 2003 SARS outbreak as well as in NYC following the World Trade Center attacks for those who had PTSD symptoms.
Finding quick ways to mediate stress is a natural response. For some, drinking and substance usage may have crossed over to a point where individuals or their loved ones are concerned. Substances also can begin as a seemingly magical solution that can quickly turn and become an additional problem.
Many have used the pandemic as a motivation to focus on their work/life balance, re-evaluate what is important to them, and as a time to focus on their own wellness. This has been an easier process for some individuals than for others. Those who may be drinking or using substances but are able to effortlessly stop or cut back may have been experiencing “problem” usage, but not an addiction. For those who have tried various methods to cut back or to abstain and are still struggling, this is also a time to reach out for support.
As this pandemic carries on, we are seeing the importance of mental health, wellness and immune system functioning. Could something good come out of such a difficult time? That is the question that many are faced with and in a moment of clarity, if you or a loved one decide to reach out for help, be sure that there is a resource available.
The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) model can be the right fit, particularly for those who want to continue to stay home with their loved ones, working but also receiving care simultaneously. So many individuals have been reaching out for addiction treatment services, that there are wait lists for many providers and programs. The IHAT model allows for a quick admission process and provides wrap around services to meet the needs of clients. The IHAT Institute is training healthcare professionals to administer this model of care, which is now available in CT, MA, NH, ME, FL, RI and IN. Given all of the changes in healthcare delivery, this innovative treatment model could be the change that a healthcare professional is looking for in their career.