By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC
For many, the pandemic has brought health to the front and center of their minds for the past 2 years. Realizing that those who have weaker immune systems, diabetes, high-blood sugar, lung conditions and other medical comorbidities have led some individuals to gain motivation to make healthy changes in their lives. While there are some medical conditions that cannot be “cured”, some symptoms can be decreased through overall healthy eating, weight loss, increasing immune system function and exercise.
The main focus of the topic of substance use throughout the pandemic has focused on the increases in substance usages and drug overdoses and deaths. However, this recent National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) study is now shifting the focus to the impact that some Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) may have in breakthrough COVID-19 cases for those who have been vaccinated (Study Link: https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2021/10/people-with-substance-use-disorders-may-be-at-higher-risk-for-sars-cov-2-breakthrough-infections) Specifically, the study finds that individuals specifically with alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, opioid, and tobacco use disorders had twice the rate of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death following these breakthrough infections. The study went on to describe that the “co-occurring health conditions and adverse socioeconomic determinants of health” that are more common in those with SUD were largely responsible for these breakthrough infections.
The message from this study is that while vaccinations are an option for many who want to prevent contracting COVID-19, they are not able to work as effectively for those with several types of SUDs. SUDs are a treatable condition, and this can provide hope for the millions who have suffered from them.
Can the pandemic be a motivator for individuals to get sober? It can if a person has a window of willingness in combination with the right resources that are accessible and affordable. The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) model of care can be an option for so many individuals, because it allows clients to access care while living at home with both in-person and/or telehealth options. Major insurance carriers are also covering the services for a year and this is increasing the availability of SUD treatment to so many individuals in CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, IN and FL.
In order to support the growth of the IHAT model, the IHAT Institute is training addiction professionals to be able to facilitate these services. The past 2 years have led many professionals to rethink their careers and the direction that they are heading. Now can be a time for change and to add to your skill set by becoming IHAT certified.