What Clinicians Need to Know About the Rise in Anxiety and Opioid Addiction During the COVID Pandemic

Pain does not exist in a vacuum. Even the simple act of skinning your knee affects how you walk, the position in which you sleep, and your general demeanor in response to the discomfort. Now multiply that sense of pain times a million and you can begin to picture the complexities of anxiety and addiction in the age of COVID-19.

As a care provider, you treat patients comprehensively. You study their complete medical records, not just the front page. Your diagnoses reflect a holistic understanding of a person’s experiences and wellness goals. That is why it is important to consider the multiplying effects of the novel coronavirus on complicated dynamics such as psychological disorders and substance use. 

NATURE, NURTURE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN

Human beings are products of our environment and our upbringing. We were born with certain characteristics that evolve and mature according to our surroundings. So, when our life circumstances become dire, they cast a looming shadow over our development and progress.

The spread of COVID-19 has damaged more than our collective health; it has fractured society as a whole. We cannot simply go to a movie theater or gather with friends without taking serious health concerns into consideration. In the absence of these self-care measures, we become withdrawn. Existing insecurities get magnified, resulting in a more pronounced need for therapeutic and medical attention. 

But COVID has a way of eclipsing every other condition facing patients in the current health care climate. When clients feel forgotten, it adds to their sense of alienation, exacerbating various traumatic perceptions. That’s why it is important for clinicians to reconnect with patients without letting bureaucracy or needless administrative obstacles get in their way. Streamlining your systems allows you to do what you do best: heal those in need. 

THE ECONOMICS OF FEAR

The loss of one’s job creates a prefect storm of anxiety. Decreased income coupled with the search for a new opportunity creates panic in many people. The job interview process alone can strike fear in the hearts of prospective employees.

The United States economy plummeted by record numbers in April of 2020, sloughing off more than 20.5 million jobs. We are still struggling to right the proverbial ship, scrambling to piece together stimulus packages and support small businesses through the most turbulent era in modern history.

But beyond the macroeconomics of a global pandemic, the micro landscape is incredibly troubling. Individuals are bearing the brunt of the stresses created by cornonavirus. Homelessness is raging across America, contributing to the rampant spread of COVID. People feel like there is nowhere to turn, which makes your clinical services more essential than ever.

LACK OF COMPREHENSIVE CARE

Patients are apprehensive to seek care amidst our ominous reality. When you hear about a spike in coronavirus cases daily on the news, it is only natural to shy away from visiting your primary doctor or mental health specialist.

The rise in telemedicine has quickly flourished to meet the curious demands of the moment. 93% of patients surveyed in a recent study indicate that they now use telehealth portals to fill their prescriptions. While online treatment is a wonderful supplement to our collective approach to healthcare, it should not replace the personal touch.

Case in point: patients struggling with addiction may fall through the cracks created by telemedicine. If it becomes easier to simply order your meds to be delivered, there may be less follow-up and more abuse of those meds. 

Some clinics may be inundated with prescription requests. In their haste, they might take the easy path and fill medication orders without considering the ramifications. Neither patients nor doctors should ever accept a “quick fix” over comprehensive care. Just because it’s more convenient to dole out pills online, that does not mean it’s right.

It is imperative to closely monitor the distribution and application of prescription medications. Opioid addiction is an epidemic that claims the lives of over 46,000 Americans every year.

We must not lose sight of the continuing struggle of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones surviving addiction. COVID does not change the dynamics of recovery; it only makes access more complicated.

NAVIGATING UNCERTAINTY

All of the dynamics detailed above can be overwhelming when viewed individually. Demand for online care, increased anxiety over economic distress, and wariness of social situations are all too much to fathom. When these factors boil over, they may prompt the most vulnerable members of our population to self-medicate, turning to opioids to sooth their pain.

But when we organize our priorities, we may be able to find order within the greater chaos.

The challenges presented by our current predicament give birth to innovations and solutions. You may need to allocate more resources for the influx of patients seeking in-house treatment or monitor the meds necessary to provide them the best care possible. Instead of considering each of these goals as separate tasks, you may be able to integrate them into a cohesive program.

Meet Lightning Step.

Our program is designed for organizations that are meeting the needs of today with insights into tomorrow. In one comprehensive dashboard, you can assess individual care needs as well as overall facility stats. Make sure there are sufficient meals for all of your residents to cover the surge in registration. Keep tabs on bed assignments and therapy schedules. Whatever your specialties may be, the Lightning Step program is customized to bring your goals to life.
Contact the experts who care about caregivers. You are giving patients a new lease on life by treating their addiction and anxiety during the darkest of times. You deserve some help yourself. We can’t wait to join your team.

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