Detox & Rehab During COVID-19
If you are dealing with an addiction, it can be difficult enough without also having to worry about the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be thinking, “I need rehab right now,” but also be concerned about minimizing your risk of catching COVID-19. Luckily, you don’t have to put detox or rehab on hold because of the pandemic. There are ways to start your journey to recovery while minimizing the risk of contracting COVID-19.
What is COVID-19
COVID-19, also known as coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2, is a viral disease that is highly contagious and affects the respiratory system. COVID-19 has some symptoms in common with the flu and requires a test to confirm diagnosis. Symptoms can appear within 2 to 14 days after exposure and may include:1
- Body or muscle aches.
- Chest pain.
- Lack of smell or taste.
- Runny nose.
- Shortness of breath.
- Sore throat.
- Trouble breathing.
COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe and life-threatening. It is believe that the virus is spread through direct transmission by infected people, indirect transmission by touching things that have been contaminated, or coming in contact with respiratory secretions of infected people when they sneeze, cough, or talk.2 Some people with COVID-19 might be asymptomatic but can still spread the disease.3
COVID-19 has affected nearly every country around the world and continues to spread.4 Recent numbers show over 20.1 million confirmed cases worldwide and 737,417 deaths directly due to COVID-19, with numbers increasing daily.4 In the United States alone, there are more than 5.1 million confirmed cases and more than 163,000 deaths.5 The hardest-hit states are California, Florida, Texas, and New York.5 In the United States, each state is taking measures to slow the spread.6
COVID-19 and Addiction
States and countries have implemented a variety of restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, these restrictions can have a major impact on people with substance use disorders. Social distancing restrictions require people to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others, even if they aren’t displaying any symptoms.3 Bars and restaurants have been closed, limiting access to alcohol. Some areas are strongly urging people to stay home as much as possible, except to meet basic needs. This can make it difficult to obtain alcohol or drugs and can place people with substance use disorders at greater risk of experiencing uncomfortable and potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms.
Travel restrictions between states and countries can impact supplies of illicit drugs and make it difficult to obtain certain drugs, which can lead to the use of other substances that can have harmful or unexpected effects.7 People who have traveled or potentially been exposed to COVID-19 are required to self-quarantine to prevent possibly further spreading the illness, making it difficult to access drugs or alcohol. Additionally, the stress, isolation, boredom, and loneliness associated with these safety measures may trigger people to use more than they normally would, even as supplies run low.7 In people who are using alone, the risk of overdose may increase, especially when another person would normally have been able to administer Narcan (naloxone) or call 911.
Substance use disorders are associated with increased risk of respiratory issues, including infection, reduced immune functioning, poor nutrition, and respiratory disease associated with substance use.7 People who ingest substances by smoking them may be prone to lung injuries or damage, placing them at higher risk of falling ill with COVID-19 and experiencing more severe symptoms and outcomes if they do.
Behaviors associated with substance use can also increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. People may ignore social distancing guidelines and travel restrictions to obtain alcohol or drugs.7 Using around others who are smoking can cause additional exposure to respiratory secretions, and sharing paraphernalia, cups, or cigarettes can be a major source of exposure to the virus. Substance use and medical conditions caused by substance use can potentially lead to worse outcomes for people who have COVID-19 infections.
Is it Safe to Detox at Home?
During the pandemic, you may be wondering how to beat addiction without rehab and whether it is safe to detox at home. Detoxing under professional care can be beneficial in a number of ways.8 Withdrawal can be an extremely uncomfortable process that is commonly associated with strong cravings to use, making it very difficult to detox without professional assistance.9 It is especially dangerous to detox from certain substances at home, since alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can include seizures, delirium tremens, or trouble regulating body functions, which can be fatal. Complications during withdrawal from any substance can develop quickly, especially if a person has any underlying medical conditions. Medical detox is staffed by medical professionals who can monitor patients for potential complications and prescribe medications as needed to ease uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and manage any issues that arise.8 ,9 Medical detox also facilitates the transition into formal treatment and will help you understand when to go to rehab for alcohol or drugs.8
Are Rehabs Still Open During COVID-19?
The good news is that rehabs have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many businesses have been forced to close, rehab facilities can be considered essential services, and hence can stay operational.10
Is Detox or Rehab Safe During COVID-19?
Many detox and rehab facilities have taken precautionary measures to ensure that they are safe for patients and staff during COVID-19. If you are wondering how to get admitted to rehab during a pandemic, the first step is to be screened for risk factors for the virus, including symptoms, travel, exposure to someone who has exhibited symptoms or been diagnosed, or exposure to someone who has traveled to a high-risk area. All staff, anyone seeking admission, and anyone exhibiting symptoms is tested, and those who are positive are either not admitted or asked to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations and quarantine for 2 weeks. People coming from out of state for treatment may need to self-quarantine for 2 weeks, depending on state guidelines. Facilities may be cleaned and disinfected much more frequently than usual. Social distancing guidelines may change the way facilities operate, such as implementing bed restrictions to provide additional personal space and avoiding close contact between patients. Groups are available to address the impact that COVID-19 has had on individuals and how it can affect the recovery process.
American Addiction Centers to Provide Treatment
American Addiction Centers is one of the largest treatment providers in the United States, offering effective and high-quality treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. With facilities located across the country, there is always a local option available for you even with travel restrictions in place. American Addiction Centers offers a continuum of care, starting with a safe medical detox that can help you manage the symptoms of withdrawal that many people are experiencing as a result of COVID-19. Ongoing treatment is also available, which can help you reach your recovery goals.
Do you have questions about Rehab?
Our mission at American Addiction Centers is to help people access effective treatment for substance use disorders.14 This mission is not limited to our facilities. If you have any questions or concerns, you can call our confidential helpline, which is free and available 24/7. This will connect you to one of our Admissions Navigators, who are passionate, understanding, and knowledgeable. They can help you start treatment at one of our facilities, answer questions you may have, or provide the resources you need to find treatment at another facility. When you are ready, we will be too. You can reach us at 1-888-935-1318.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Symptoms of coronavirus.
- World Health Organization. (2020). Q&A: How is COVID-19 transmitted?
- S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020). Help stop the spread of coronavirus and protect your family.
- World Health Organization. (2020). WHO coronavirus disease (COVID-19) disease dashboard.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). United States COVID-19 cases and deaths by state.
- University of New Hampshire. (2020). COVID-19 economic crisis: By state.
- Dubey, M.J., Ghosh, R., Chatterjee, S., Biswas, P., Chatterjee, S., & SOURCE 7, S. (2020). COVID-19 and addiction. Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, 14 (5), 817-823.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (3rd edition).
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 45, DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 06-4131. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- S. Department of Homeland Security. (2020). Advisory memorandum on identification of essential critical infrastructure workers during COVID-19 response.