|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 5 | Page : 11
Impact of COVID-19 on addiction treatment services
Department of Psychiatry, National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
|Date of Submission||14-Sep-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||15-Sep-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||02-Oct-2020|
Dr. Siddharth Sarkar
Department of Psychiatry, National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi - 110 029
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Sarkar S. Impact of COVID-19 on addiction treatment services. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2020;36, Suppl S1:11
COVID-19 has impacted the treatment of substance use disorders to a considerable extent.
At our center, opioid substitution treatment (OST) is administered as daily-dispensing buprenorphine in the initial period, and then weekly take-home medication of buprenorphine–naloxone combination. As the lockdown was initiated in end-March 2020, there was a problem in the logistics related to OST. In the clinic setting, we could not initiate any new patients on OST and as the initial lockdown was for 3 weeks, we dispensed at least 3-week medication to others. Conversely, in our community setting, we gave medication for a week's time, as the patients enrolled in the community clinics resided nearby.
Due to the lockdown, patients found it difficult to commute to the treatment services, and the initial few weeks witnessed a drop in the number of patients coming for treatment. Yet, we had patients walking or cycling several kilometers to reach the treatment services as public transport was not available. While addiction treatment has several barriers of its own, COVID-19 put forth added barriers for accessing treatment. Another challenge was ensuring that patients wore masks and adhered to social distancing when they came for treatment. Regulated entry of limited number of patients with temperature checks conducted by security personnel was ensured diligently. Stores prioritized the procurement of sanitizers and personal protective equipment. Doctors, nursing staff, sanitization staff, guards, and others rose to the occasion to provide care to the patients. There was a scare when a few personnel working at the center contracted COVID-19, but fortunately, it did not result in a localized outbreak.
Postlockdown and during the various phases of “unlock,” the current challenges include a severe impact in the training of postgraduates and super-specialists, gradually decreasing vigilance against COVID-19, and gradually increasing inflow of patients. Another pragmatic challenge that needs to be anticipated is dealing with the cases of COVID-19 in the inpatient setting. Whether the whole ward would need testing and isolation, or whether isolating a COVID-19 patient would suffice, would be the key question Research, which was stalled till this point of time, would resume again, resulting in increasing patient–clinician interaction. Consequently, ways of reducing the exposures during research endeavors would need to be sought out to minimize potential transmission of the infection.
To conclude, from apprehension to preparation to tackling the pandemic, we move toward adaptation and re-normalization of the process of care in the field of addiction psychiatry.
| References|| |
Sarkar S, Mishra S, Padhy SK. How COVID-19 may impact mental health research conduct, interpretation and priorities? Asian J Psychiatr 2020;54:102245.