By Gabrielle Echevarrieta
The events of recent months are taking a mental toll on Americans. Many are experiencing increased levels of anxiety and depression, and some mental health professionals claim that our population is entering a state of collective trauma. While there are many healthy ways to manage these difficult emotions, it can be tempting to self-medicate in order to cope with this pain. This can lead to substance use disorder, also called SUD, or cause those in recovery to relapse, which poses a number of serious physical and psychological risks.
Those struggling with addiction are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opioid and methamphetamine use compromises respiratory and pulmonary health, which can exacerbate the symptoms of the virus. Additionally, people with SUDs are more likely to experience homelessness and incarceration, which may prevent them from being able to quarantine or practice social distancing. Lack of health care access can also intensify these risks. Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, says, “If hospitals and clinics are pushed to their capacity, it could be that people with addiction—who are already stigmatized and underserved by the health care system—will experience even greater barriers to treatment for COVID-19.”
Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research Center is providing clinical care to combat this public health crisis. The official opening of this 96-acre campus, located in Calverton, was moved up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wellbridge provides evidence-based and New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports-approved treatments, including withdrawal management, inpatient rehabilitation, and both family and individual mental health resources. Those who are entering treatment for the first time and those who have been through rehabilitation are both welcome.
“We’re eager to change the narrative where seeking addiction treatment is something that should be supported and celebrated, and creating an environment that welcomes patients and their families from the moment they walk through our door, to long after they’ve left our campus,” says Dr. Harshal Kirane, Wellbridge’s medical director. The center uses a personalized approach to address the unique needs of each patient, creating a customized treatment protocol that may include clinical and supportive therapies, medical and mental health care as appropriate, and medication management as required. Operating under a holistic care philosophy, Wellbridge addresses both SUD and potential co-occurring psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more.