Is “now” the best time to send my loved one to treatment?
In a recent radio interview focused on addiction and recovery, the host asked his guest “Should families be sending their loved one to treatment in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic?”. It’s an important question, and one family and individuals need to consider carefully. Generally, both families and their substance abusing loved one’s struggle with “the facts” for a variety of reasons, and the decision to seek treatment can be overwhelming for most. Denial, rationalization, fear and the confusing chaos that accompanies addiction can keep addict and family confounded in crisis after crisis, unable to see the “forest for trees” preventing them from seeking meaningful solutions. The question as to whether someone suffering in a drug and alcohol epidemic should seek treatment during a viral pandemic can be best answered with an examination of the facts.
A family’s greatest fear is that their addict loved one will die as a result of their uncontrolled behavior and substance abuse, and with good reason – addiction is a brain disease that is progressive and potentially fatal -last year in the US over 150,000 people died from alcohol and drug-related causes. The physical, mental and emotional co-occurring illnesses that accompany addiction create vulnerability to other diseases and disorders. It’s a fact that the poor nutrition, disregard for personal hygiene, compromised immune systems, risky impulsive behaviors, and irresponsibility that often accompanies addiction leaves one especially vulnerable to the likelihood of contracting any contagious disease. We saw this occur with addicts during the AIDS and Hepatitis C crisis. Healthcare professionals routinely screen and treat alcohol and drug-abusing patients for bacterial infections and organ impairment due to the comorbid prevalence in that population. With a highly a virulent and contagious virus such as Covid-19, the heightened vulnerability poses danger to both the addict and anyone they come in contact with-most especially their family where social distancing is typically not practiced. The argument for treatment during a pandemic is a strong one considering these facts, and an understanding of the “treatment environment” may be helpful for those facing these tough decisions.
Most treatment centers are State licensed and have State or Nationally approved accreditations that mandate standards of care the facilities are accountable to. Qualified treatment centers take these standards of practice and duty of care to their clients seriously. Infection Control education and practice are routine in community settings such as residential treatment facilities. Policies, procedures, strict code requirements and enforcements are in place to maximize the health and safety of both clients and staff. It is inevitable that a residential treatment center will encounter chronic and acute health issues in the population they treat-staff training and practices are aimed at early recognition followed by procedures and utilization of resources appropriate to the circumstances. Ensuring clients receive an appropriate level of care, eliminating and minimizing an infectious disease potential to the community is routine in the best-managed treatment centers.
While families are not responsible for their loved one becoming addicted, they are responsible for how they respond to the crisis. Faced with the important decision of seeking treatment during a Pandemic a family must consider whether their loved one is better off remaining active in their disease with a circumstantial vulnerability to increased risk of contracting Covid-19 vs. being in a controlled environment in a facility whose staff is educated, trained and skilled at recognizing and dealing with crises?
Most families are ill equipped to deal with the disease of addiction, let alone pandemic disease. Sending a loved one to a residential treatment facility run by professionally licensed Medical and Clinical staff, certified counselors and support staff trained and experienced in dealing with clients in crisis while maintaining a healthy community environment, may be the most meaningful decision a family can make.
We remain open and committed to providing critical addiction treatment. For information on Coronavirus (COVID-19), including symptoms, risks, ways to protect yourself and our commitment to patient & staff safety,click here. Call us to speak with an qualified admissions specialist (949) 942-8495