COVID-19 otherwise known as the Coronavirus began its spread at a seafood market in Wuhan, China. It has now arrived to spread in the United States, with the CDC reporting 4,226 confirmed positive patients in the country. The death toll of the US has reached 75, as this virus is especially dangerous for the elderly and immunocompromised.
People are making personal sacrifices across the globe to slow the spread of coronavirus. Schools, malls, movie theaters, sports seasons, and restaurants have temporarily closed. We’re washing our hands and cleaning surfaces more than ever, as well as not touching our faces.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine has already released Coronavirus guidelines on recommended precautionary steps to take to protect patients.
Is it Safe to go to Treatment?
If you are facing a drug and alcohol addiction problem right now, it’s natural to wonder if it is in your best interest to pursue treatment during this outbreak. No matter what, it is always a wise decision to get help for a drug and alcohol addiction.
Treatment centers will continue to diligently follow ASAM Coronavirus precautions. Furthermore, during these times of uncertainty, we’re diligently monitoring the latest information from the World Health Organization and CDC.
The health and safety of staff and patients is the highest priority.
The World Health Organization advises every country’s citizens to be diligent in the following:
- Stay informed: Get information from trustworthy public health authorities.
- Wash your hands regularly: Use soap and warm water for 30 seconds or use antibacterial rub.
- Maintain social distancing: Keep three feet between you and another person.
- Avoid touching your face
- Sneeze and cough into a tissue or your sleeve.
Coronavirus Precaution Measures for Addiction Treatment Providers
Lipi Roy, MD, MPH suggests the following coronavirus precautions at addiction treatment facilities:
- Screen visitors to the facility by phone. Ask them about common coronavirus symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath. Also, ask about their previous activities. For example, were they recently exposed to someone who tested positive for the disease? Or, did they do any recent traveling abroad?
- Take careful precautions in the waiting room. Roy suggests, “Post signs about hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Advise people to sit six feet apart. Mask and isolate sick patients in private rooms, if possible.”
- Make medications widely available. Some facilities may need to consider a temporary overhaul of their process. For example, patients commonly come in for care on a daily basis in opioid treatment programs. But doctors may need to prescribe medications multiple times per week instead. Fewer visits to the facility diminish the spread of the disease.
- Modernize therapy sessions. In other words, replace face-to-face sessions with video chats.
- Sanitize surfaces: Be diligent in maintaining clean and sanitized surfaces that people frequently touch. These may be doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, cabinets, remote controls, and much more.