Latest California Healthline Stories
The coronavirus has forced drug rehabilitation centers to scale back operations or temporarily close, leaving people who have another potentially deadly disease — addiction — with fewer opportunities for help.
Experts say a bit of extra drinking isn’t a problem for many people, but they recommend watching out for specific behaviors that signal addiction.
Counting deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic is easier said than done. Without widespread testing, officials must sort through presumed COVID deaths and those who died with infections rather than from them. Then there are the indirect deaths of people who died from circumstances created by the pandemic.
In areas hit hard by the coronavirus, such as Detroit, behavioral health care workers have been overburdened and forced to scale back services at the same time people battling mental health disorders became more stressed and anxious.
Relaxed regulations in response to the pandemic means more access to addiction treatment medications. But recovery programs are accepting fewer people, and the danger of overdose remains high.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked lawmakers to pare down their legislative wish lists and focus on the state’s coronavirus response. But state Sen. Jim Beall plans to forge ahead with his mental health care proposals, including a measure to create a state mental health parity requirement.
Dr. Nora Volkow, who heads the National Institute on Drug Abuse, details how emerging science points to added challenges for these patient populations and the public health system.
Under the national emergency, the government has waived a law that required patients to have an in-person visit with a physician before they could be prescribed drugs that help quell withdrawal symptoms, such as Suboxone. Now they can get those prescriptions via a phone call or videoconference with a doctor. That may give video addiction therapy a kick-start.
People in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction have to weather a new storm of depression, anxiety and isolation during the pandemic, just as the social supports of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs move online.
Sarah and Andy fell in love while working to keep drug users from overdosing. But when his own addiction reemerged, Andy’s fear of returning to prison kept him from the best treatment.