OSU Addiction Medicine Clinic offers help to those struggling during pandemic
Friday, May 1, 2020
Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, many people continue to struggle with substance use disorders and the stress of isolation due to stay-at-home orders, financial burdens and uncertain futures may only make it worse.
Dr. Kelly Dunn, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and physician at the OSU Addiction Medicine Clinic in Tulsa said the current pandemic has limited access to care in a variety of ways. Initially treatment centers stopped receiving new patients in order to protect the health of current patients and staff. Peer support groups such as AA, NA and Celebrate Recovery also stopped meeting.
Fortunately, most treatment facilities and peer support groups have found ways to meet online. However, for those with limited access to technology, this has been an obstacle to receiving the support they need.
“The stress of the pandemic can lead to increased use in substances to help cope, especially alcohol. Alcohol sales have skyrocketed during these stay-at-home orders. In addition, those suffering from substance use disorders might be at increased risk for complications from COVID-19,” Dunn said.
The OSU Addiction Medicine Clinic is still operating, primarily remotely, and available to accept new patients.
“We are currently seeing new patients virtually and working on a plan to start seeing new patients safely in the clinic. Substance use disorders kill people, and although COVID-19 is a clear threat as well, we do not want anyone who wants help to have any delays in care,” she said.
The addiction medicine clinic offers evidence-based treatment to help people with their individual goals for their substance use, including FDA-approved treatments such as buprenorphine formulations for opioid use disorder and naltrexone for alcohol use disorder. Clinic physicians and staff also help connect patients with additional support services such as counseling and peer support groups.
“OSU Medicine has been on the frontlines monitoring the status of COVID-19 in our state. With consultation from our colleagues we are working on a phased plan to start opening up our clinic doors. Seeing patients virtually has been going well, but we acknowledge it’s better for some, especially new patients, to come into the building,” she said. “We will continue using CDC guidelines such as cleaning policies, mask wearing and physical distancing.”
Being part of an addiction medicine treatment program can actually make stressors like the COVID-19 pandemic easier to manage, Dunn said.
“Many patients in recovery are doing really well and have built resilience with their hard work that has given them a skill set to do well in times of stress. Some appear to be handling it better than those who never had to work through recovery and build those skills,” she said.
"Our patients frequently say they wish they had come sooner. They feel known and cared for in a non-judgmental environment."
Potential patients and family members can call the OSU Addiction Medicine Clinic at 918-561-1890 to get information on scheduling new appointments with one of the clinic’s addiction medicine trained physicians.
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