Social Isolation During COVID-19 Pandemic Increases Risk for RelapseAmong Recovering Opioid Dependents
April 27, 2020, SAN ANTONIO, TX – Social isolation mandates throughout Bexar County due to the COVID-19 pandemic pose a substantial risk for people in recovery from opioid dependency.
One solution to the current situation is to encourage doctors to refer patients for one-on-one therapy for the time being. Behavioral therapy must continue to be a priority. “You can imagine what it’s like for those who have underlying issues, which many patients who take long-term opioids already have, because of their chronic pain or problems they’ve been dealing with in their lives,” said NuHope founder, Dr. Adam Bruggeman. “So social isolation only exacerbates their problems, which can easily lead to opioid abuse,” he said.
Unfortunately, we’re failing to address the root of the issue. The DEA has given approval for health care professionals to prescribe a controlled substance via telehealth technology during the pandemic, and many providers are writing 30-day opioid prescriptions so that patients don’t have to leave home to go to their doctor’s office or treatment clinics. According to Dr. Bruggeman, this can lead to substance abuse by having prescribed narcotics readily at hand.
“What it points to is if we move away from patients actually receiving the behavioral component of their therapy because we’re worried about social distancing, we’re doing a great disservice to these patients. That’s why we continue to stay open. Giving a 30-day prescription and checking in the next month isn’t enough. We need to be regularly available for our patients in need.”
“When you require people to isolate themselves combined with them watching or hearing about all of the negative statements on the news about the coronavirus, people can go into a tailspin quickly,” Dr. Bruggeman said. “It’s important we reach out to them to provide them with additional support services, such as counseling, to make sure they don’t fall off and get into trouble. And we know that opioid use is a problem with isolation, which is why we encourage the continuation of behavioral therapy.”
About NuHope: NuHope is a unique treatment center that combines the expertise of medical doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, social workers, licensed counselors, drug counselors, certified counselors, and physical therapists to care for patients dependent on opioids. This integrated treatment addresses the physical, biological, and mental components of opioid use, including pain management, and is done in conjunction with a graduated taper of opioid medications. This protocol must be done in totality to limit or eliminate signs and symptoms of craving and withdrawal which can hinder or prevent recovery. Learn more at NuHope’s website: https://nuhope.com