In 2016, I signed myself into a drug and alcohol treatment facility. My first few days were filled with meeting new people, filling out paperwork, going to different meetings and groups, and connecting with staff members. Unfortunately, and fortunately, this is no longer the case for new admissions who wish to enter drug and alcohol treatment centers during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Admissions into alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers has drastically changed since the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Many treatment facilities are testing new admissions prior to or during the first few days after admissions. Facilities have done further measures such as sanitizing all surfaces each hour, not allowing visitors, taking the temperatures of each employee at the start of their shifts, and having employees wear the appropriate PPE in order to keep their residents safe and healthy.
Haley Hudson speaks out about how drug and alcohol treatment centers are using the proper precautions while admitting new patients. These precautions include looking for symptoms of COVID-19 during intake, testing for COVID-19 prior to intake, and keeping patients in quarantine until their results from the COVID-19 test come back.
All of these precautions help patients long term and will keep current patients’ health protected. Instead of refusing new admissions, when treatment programs add these precautions it makes it possible for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction to get proper treatment. While it is important for treatment programs to add new policies in regard to the safety of patients’ health, some of these policies add more difficulties in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction.
3 Difficulties Arising From Restrictive Policies
1. Refusal to Treat Patients with Symptoms or Positive Test Results.
In order to maintain safety for current residents and staff members in treatment facilities, some facilities are turning away new intakes who are testing positive for COVID-19. In addition to positive test results leading to discharge, a high fever can be an immediate turn away for a new admission.
For these people, this refusal of admissions can lead them to a relapse that can kill them. It only takes one time for someone to overdose on Opioids. I know that when people are turned away from treatment, they often go right back to drinking or using drugs. Drinking alcohol or using drugs for an alcoholic or drug addict can be extremely dangerous.
2. Disconnect because of isolation policies.
On top of possibly being turned down the opportunity for treatment because of a fever, or positive COVID-19 test result, having to be isolated for up to 48 hours while awaiting results from testing makes it harder for patients to adjust to their new setting.
Ordinarily, new patients in drug and alcohol treatment centers are surrounded by the care and support of staff members and other clients, and can start their journey into therapeutic treatments. Now, everything is pushed back by a few days. To a NON ALCOHOLIC this may seem like NO…. BIG….. DEAL…. HOWEVER, the first few days of recovery can be determinate of whether one stays in a treatment program or goes back out to drink and use drugs.
In my first attempts at achieving sobriety, I went in and out of rehabs and hospitals. My first few days in rehabs often determined whether I wanted to stay or leave. I often would enter a rehab with all the will in the world to stay for good and get sober. Within a few days, I would be off running and drinking again. This last time, the connection I made with my staff members and fellow residents helped me get through the urge to leave treatment which helped me stay sober long term.
3. Lack of 12 Step Recovery Meetings.
In addition to connection with others, 12 step meetings helped me recover from the obsession to drink and use drugs. I gained tools that I could use when I have any cravings, and tools to use in my daily life that help me be a better person. In reality, 12 step meetings changed my life. Without them, I would not have become who am I today.
Because of my experience, I worry that current residents in drug and alcohol treatment centers will struggle gaining the proper tools that come from 12 step meetings. Since COVID-19, patients in drug and alcohol treatment centers are no longer able to go to outside 12 step meetings. In some cases, 12 step meetings are being held inside the treatment facilities so that clients are able to see the format of meetings and learn about the 12 steps.
These meetings may seem great although many patients may feel fear of going to a public meeting and without exposure to them, they may never try to go after they leave treatment.
For many people, the society we currently live in makes it a little more scary to get sober. But despite the overwhelming changes to recovery, there can still be hope….