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The Role of Rehabilitation Centers During the Pandemic

Rehabilitation Centers During the Pandemic

The global pandemic has been challenging for people from all walks of life. Amidst mass lay-offs, increased responsibilities for essential workers, limitations on physical contact, and new family dynamics, no one is unaffected. Yet, our vulnerable communities will have a significantly more challenging time than others.

Recovering addicts are one of the vulnerable communities that have been drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rehabilitation centers have had to make meaningful changes in light of this unprecedented time. Here are a few of the impacts the pandemic has had on the role of rehabilitation.

Keeping Patients and Staff Safe

Keeping patients and staff safe from the virus has been priority number one for many rehabilitation centers. Some even shut down their in-patient programs during the early days of the pandemic. 

For many centers, this experience has necessitated a shift in how the staff can interact with patients. Practicing physical distancing and ensuring there is adequate PPE in place has been an essential part of the evolution process. 

Additionally, enhanced pre-admission measures have been put in place in an attempt to keep the virus out. These measures include everything from taking temperatures to administering a detailed questionnaire about travel and social interactions.

Dealing with the Challenges of Isolation

A common theme among the recovery community is togetherness and support. This theme is apparent whether you’re working with an alcohol rehab center or going to a local AA meeting in a church basement. However, the pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of many community recovery meetings and group sessions within an outpatient rehab environment.

Furthermore, recovering addicts are limited in how they interact with family and friends. The implication of not being able to hug one’s parents is tough enough for many people who aren’t working through their recovery process. This unprecedented level of isolation has profound impacts on recovery patients.

For rehabilitation centers, this means trying to find ways to offer support without the same community experience that’s viewed as a pillar of addiction recovery.

Dealing with Change and Stress

Many people in rehabilitation centers had the unique challenge of returning to the world to discover the world they knew no longer existed. An essay written by recovering alcoholic Nick Rahaim dove into the experience of trying to recover in an unfamiliar world. The key takeaway? Sobriety feels impossible during this global event.

Many rehabilitation programs focus on removing triggering events from the equation. But what if the entire world is a triggering event? This situation necessitates another look at programming methods to help cope with the extra change and stresses caused by the current global state.

Improved Accessibility and Support

The pandemic has forced many rehabilitation centers and community programs to revisit how they offer support. Some centers are even altering their hours and setting up 24/7 access lines. 

Not all changes forced by the global pandemic have been negative, and many people see these adaptations as a positive change. Only time will tell if these changes stick around after Coronavirus is no longer an issue.

The Impact of Financial Hardships

Coronavirus has caused unemployment rates to soar. In the UK, the unemployment rate jumped to 10% in March up from 3.8%. Unemployment in the USA jumped to 14.7% in April, the highest it had been since the Great Depression.

The financial burden and economic instability will be a barrier for many people seeking treatment. Funding is expected to be reduced as money gets moved around, and people lack the finances they previously had to invest in treatment for themselves or their family members. 

Fortunately, the shift toward telemedicine and remote accessibility to rehabilitation support will help cut costs and could potentially revolutionize the industry.

In summation, there are a lot of big changes in the role of rehabilitation centers during the pandemic. It will be fascinating to see how programs are adapted going forward.

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