For the hundreds of thousands of Americans who visit clinics every day for their dose of opioid addiction medication, social distancing is nearly impossible. If patients miss a dose, they could go into withdrawal or turn to street drugs and risk overdose. So how are people in recovery getting the help they need?
Being stuck home alone can be hard on everyone… but it’s especially difficult for people who are recovering from addiction. People like Pam Emmil.
“Obviously it is a stressful time for people in addiction. It brings up a lot of triggers,” said Emmil.
Pam is in a medicated treatment program. She’s prescribed buprenorphine, a drug to help curb her cravings and addiction to opioids. But the coronavirus has changed how that process works each day. Many just like Pam, are at home alone where stress and routine changes can increase the risk of a relapse.
So treatment facilities are getting creative with how they treat patients as everyone works together to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“In the attempt to protect my staff, and my patients and our community, with doing all the things around good hygiene and social distancing we’ve had to really be creative,” said Kurt Snyder, Executive Director at Heartview. “One of the tools that’s helped us to that is through telehealth and the Zoom platform.”
“There’s been a lot of collaboration going on right now. From providers to the state to the federal government… and to the DEA,” notes James Knopik, State Opioid Treatment Authority. “So there have been changes in place to make sure people are able to continue getting their medication and also there’s been changes to try to reduce as much in-clinic traffic as possible.”
That’s why Pam is grateful for curbside pick-up for her medication.
“I’m taking all the precautions of staying inside and so when I have to go out I really appreciate the people coming up to my car and delivering things to me,” said Emmil.
Knopik says that medicated treatment is an “essential service” for people in recovery.
He says the Federal Department of Health and Human Services has reassured him that those medications will not be in short supply because of the coronavirus.