As if the opioid addiction epidemic wasn’t causing enough problems in America, the nation got hit with the COVID19 pandemic. If you are wondering what that has to do with the opioid addiction epidemic, it has plenty to do with it. Why? During the pandemic, millions of Americans lost their jobs.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, millions more Americans lost their small businesses. When people are hurt and struggling, they tend to look for relief in the worst places. In this case, people took to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with the stress of their newfound problems. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. The fact that many of these same people are stuck in the cycle of addiction even today should also not come as a surprise.
What is the total effect of the ongoing opioid addiction epidemic coupled with the suffering of people being adversely affected by COVID19? The truth is there has been a lot of fallout from this difficult situation. Nowhere is the effect of this fallout more evident than it is in the addiction treatment community. From one state to the next, the impact on the ability of the collective addiction treatment community to provide services to everyone who wants it or needs it has greatly diminished. To answer the titled question, yes, the demand for addiction treatment services is higher than the capacity to provide that treatment. For a progressive nation like America, that is an amazing thing to see happen.
However, no one could have anticipated the onset of the virus or the effect it would have on the population. The impact of this lack of adequate addiction treatment resources is being felt everywhere. How sad is it that people who hit rock bottom are reaching out for help, only to be put on waiting lists for residential treatment? That’s just facility availability. There is also a shortage of qualified and licensed therapists to handle the workload. As of right now, concerned community leaders and the medical/psychiatric communities are looking for solutions. While the opening of new treatment facilities and the hiring of therapista is currently underway, the only available line of defense for people who need help now is outpatient treatment. We will discuss that in the next section.
Turning to Outpatient Treatment
With a lack of available bed space in so many addiction residential treatment centers, more clients are getting pushed into outpatient treatment programs. For a lot of people, that probably isn’t a big issue. However, there are likely tens of thousands of people who really need residential treatment not getting it. Their ability to establish and maintain any resemblance of recovery depends on them getting 24/7 scrutiny from rehab staff members. When bed space is not available, clients have to settle for the next best option. In this case, it would be outpatient treatment.
Depending on a client’s circumstances, they could get placement in either a Partial Hospitalization (PHP) treatment program or go the Intensive Outpatient (IOP) route. While both of these program types focus a lot on individual and group therapy, they do so with a material difference in the amount of time a client has to be present in the rehab facility. As part of a PHP program, clients have to report to rehab at least five days a week. Each day, they might have to spend up to a full 8 hours in therapy.
This is by far the most restrictive outpatient option. For clients with lesser addiction issues, they might be able to get the help they need in an IOP program. That would require them to report for treatment 3 to 5 days a week for up to 4 hours each day. While that much time might sound adequate, it is still incumbent on outpatient clients to follow rules similar to what they would encounter in a residential treatment facility. These rules include:
- No alcohol or drugs without a prescription from a doctor
- Submit to random drug testing
- Show up for all appointments on time, every time
- Keep making good progress
While treatment resources might be limited, you cannot let that stop you from seeking help. You need to do what is necessary to recover from your addiction. We would like to ask you to call us at 833-364-0736. If you do, we will do everything in our power to bring you in for the treatment you need.