A large genetic study tracking 150,000 subjects for over a decade has affirmed the direct causal link between drinking alcohol and developing cancer. The findings particularly link oesophageal cancers and head and neck cancers with alcohol consumption.
Although researchers have pointed to associations between alcohol consumption and cancer for many years it has been challenging to understand exactly just how directly alcohol causes cancer, as opposed to the many deleterious lifestyle factors that often coincide with drinking
Heavy alcohol use is often associated with poor diet, smoking, and lack of exercise – all factors known to increase risk of cancer. So some have suggested it is these factors that mostly account for any correlation seen between alcohol consumption and cancer.
This new study took a novel approach at investigating the alcohol-cancer link by focusing on gene variants known to be associated with lower levels of alcohol consumption.
Two common genetic variants are known to reduce a person’s tolerability to alcohol. They decrease a person’s ability to breakdown acetaldehyde, a toxic molecule produced when the body metabolizes alcohol. Prior studies have found the presence of these genetic variants serve as effective proxies for alcohol intake, as those with the mutations generally find the effects of drinking alcohol very unpleasant.
The study looked at genetic data from 150,000 Chinese subjects. The cohort completed several surveys outlining their drinking habits, and their general health records were followed for over a decade. Evaluation of subjective drinking habits confirmed those subjects with the low-alcohol-tolerability genes consumed significantly less alcohol than those without the gene variants.
In general, those subjects with one or two copies of either genetic variant were found to have between 13 and 31 percent lower risk of cancer. In particular, cancers previously known to be linked to alcohol, such as head and neck, oesophagus, colon, rectum and liver, were detected in high rates in those drinking more alcohol.
Further affirming the causal connection, the research found those with at least one copy of a low-alcohol-tolerability variant who still drank alcohol regularly displayed significantly higher rates of head and neck cancers and oesophageal cancers. This indicates the inability to break down acetaldehyde can be directly linked with an increased risk of cancer.
“These findings indicate that alcohol directly causes several types of cancer, and that these risks may be increased further in people with inherited low alcohol tolerability who cannot properly metabolize alcohol,” explained lead researcher on the project, Pek Kei.
A landmark 2018 study from Cambridge University researchers directly demonstrated how increased levels of acetaldehyde can directly damage DNA. Those findings offered a plausible mechanism to show how alcohol consumption can lead to cancer, particularly in those with an inability to effectively clear out acetaldehyde.
Darren Griffin, a geneticist from the University of Kent, called the new findings “solid” and said they were backed up by excellent data. He also pointed out this link between alcohol and cancer is just one of many ways alcohol can harm a person’s health.
“The study design inherently isolates the fact that it is alcohol consumption (not other lifestyle factors) that seem to cause the cancer,” said Griffin, who did not work on this current study. “Such studies have far-reaching implications for lifestyle choices, however, there are range of other ways in which alcohol can be damaging to the health.”
Other researchers commenting on the new findings are cautious to note the genetic variants studied are mostly found in Asian populations, so more work is needed to validate the association in European populations. Stephen Burgess, a statistician from the University of Cambridge, stressed this limitation while calling for more research looking into this association in other ethnicities.
“One limitation of this investigation is that the harmful effect of alcohol on cancer appears strongest in people who cannot break down alcohol efficiently.” said Burgess. “Inability to break down alcohol efficiently is a common trait in East Asian populations, but it is less common in European ancestry populations. Further research is needed to determine whether a similar harmful effect of alcohol on cancer holds in European ancestry populations.”
The new findings build on a robust body of evidence linking alcohol with increased cancer risk. A striking study last year from the International Agency for Research on Cancer estimated around 740,000 new cancer cases in 2020 could be directly attributed to alcohol consumption. That adds up to around four percent of all cancer cases worldwide.
With interests in film, new media, and the new wave of psychedelic science, Rich has written for a number of online and print publications over the last decade and was Chair of the Australian Film Critics Association from 2013-2015. Since joining New Atlas Rich’s interests have broadened to encompass the era-defining effects of new technology on culture and life in the 21st century.
Addiction recovery is a process that isn’t over when you stop using drugs or alcohol. It doesn’t end when treatment ends, either. If you go home thinking you’re cured and not being mindful of how you live your life, you risk relapse.
Fortunately, developing and following healthy habits increases the chance of recovery success. Here are five healthy habits for lasting recovery.
1. Take Care Of Yourself
Most people who struggle with addiction neglect their physical and mental health. A successful recovery requires a complete change in the way you live, and taking care of yourself is the place to start.
Substance abuse often stems from an inability to deal with stress. Practicing stress management techniques and reducing the stress in your everyday life can prevent relapse.
Since physical health and mental health are closely connected, nurturing your body goes a long way to decrease stress.
A few ways to take care of yourself every day include:
A healthy diet: Drink enough water and eat enough food. Avoid processed foods whenever possible and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eating poorly or being hungry makes it harder to think straight and stand firm in recovery.
Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins (brain chemicals that make you feel happy). It also reduces blood pressure and stress hormones. Choose a form of exercise that fits you—walking, yoga, kayaking—anything that gets you moving and makes you feel better.
Enough sleep: Most adults need seven or eight hours of sleep per night. More or less than that can leave you tired, which makes it harder to handle stress and may trigger substance use. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps your body regulate sleep.
2. Connect With Others
If you attended an addiction treatment program, you probably participated in group therapy and support groups. Connecting with others is a vital part of getting out of the cycle of addiction.
When you’re isolated from others, you spend too much time with your thoughts. This can lead to many mental issues, such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. Being with others can give you a different perspective and lend you support when you feel helpless.
Join a support group or reconnect with friends and family (other than those who abuse drugs or alcohol). Don’t be afraid to let in new people who support your recovery. Individuals who’ve also experienced addiction can be a comfort as they know what you’re going through.
Be sure to surround yourself with people who are positive and uplifting—not negative people who bring you down.
3. Be Creative
Writing, art, and music are creative ways to express yourself and your emotions. Creativity can be an outlet for frustration or an act of self-discovery. It’s a great way to relieve stress.
Being creative isn’t just about producing a work of art. It’s about changing the way you live. Develop new hobbies that can teach you things, fill your time, and boost your self-confidence. Do things that fulfill you and give meaning to your life.
Depending on drugs or alcohol to have fun or feel happy can make it hard to enjoy life without them. The way some substances affect the brain’s reward center makes this especially true. But if you start doing new fun things in recovery, your brain will adapt and reward you for your healthier choices.
4. Be Mindful
Many addiction treatment programs teach mindfulness, which is the act of being aware of your thoughts and the world around you.
Mindfulness encourages people to enjoy the present rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This means savoring good experiences instead of missing them because your mind is somewhere else.
It also means paying attention to the things you do and not acting impulsively, which gives you more control over preventing relapse.
In recovery, you can practice mindfulness by staying away from people, places, and things that trigger substance abuse. Having a structured daily schedule can help. When you have a plan, you’re less likely to be bored or anxious, and it’s easier to avoid old habits.
Being mindful of your thoughts is also important in recovery.
Part of healing is self-improvement and making up for bad things you’ve done in the past. But if you only focus on the negative, it might raise your chance of relapse. You need to recognize your strengths, too.
Building on your strengths can give you confidence, separate you from your addiction, and make you a stronger person overall.
5. Be Grateful
If there’s ever a time to be grateful, it’s when you’re in recovery. You’ve broken free from addiction and are on your way to something better. Be grateful for your life, your health, and the people who support you.
When you start feeling negative or hopeless, list all the good things in your life. You’ll probably find that there is more to be thankful for than you realize. Focusing on the good can uplift your mood and give you the strength to carry on in recovery.
Some people feel that they don’t deserve good things after the damage they’ve caused by their addiction. Now is the time to forgive yourself and be grateful for this second chance.
If you’re struggling with addiction and want to make a change, speak with a treatment specialist at ARK Behavioral Health today. Our rehab programs teach healthy habits to give you the best chance of lasting recovery.
Maintaining a good relationship, whether it’s romantic or between family and friends, requires time and attention in addition to compassion and love.
An unexamined relationship could have underlying problems that won’t become apparent until stress occurs, such as from financial difficulties or the emergence of drug or alcohol abuse.
To help you avoid problems in your own life, or to recognize the signs of a fracturing bond, here are seven ways substance abuse can ruin relationships.
1. Secrets & Lies
When it comes to illegal drugs or using prescription drugs without authorization, your loved one may keep their use secret. Otherwise, they risk being shunned or stigmatized.
In some cases, a person abusing alcohol or drugs will keep usage secret out of feelings of guilt and shame as well as not wanting to be judged. There is motivation to keep things under wraps, allowing secrets in the relationship to fester.
This problem may unfortunately increase over time. Someone with addiction winds up doing things like hiding illicit substances in the house, periodically leaving for inexplicable trips, and lying to the people they love most.
2. Mental & Emotional Abuse
Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, your loved one may insult the people around them and increase verbal attacks to the point where it becomes mental abuse.
Such ongoing abuse leads to mental health problems and feelings of low self esteem, whether directed at a parent, child, sibling, or close friend. Healthy relationships are not sustainable under conditions of ongoing emotional abuse.
3. Physical & Domestic Abuse
Injuring another person physically while abusing alcohol or drugs is an unfortunate reality.
Someone who is out of control and not entirely aware of their physical capabilities can do some real damage. This is especially the case in parent-child relationships.
Aside from the physical harm from fighting, the relationship will be effectively ended if someone is arrested or put in jail for domestic abuse.
4. Loss Of Income & Stability
Losing your job is a distinct possibility when drug or alcohol abuse interferes with your ability to meet work obligations. If a pattern of absenteeism or tardiness emerges, the employer may have to take steps to put a stop to the pattern.
But when your judgment is clouded because of alcohol or drugs, you may not be able easily comply with your boss’ instructions to fall in line.
In a perfect world, you manage to take a leave of absence from work and enroll in a drug rehab facility. In reality, a chronically absent individual winds up being fired.
The resulting loss of income, as well as feelings of shame and embarrassment, puts additional strain on relationships and threatens stability within the household.
5. Loss Of Trust
Without a basic level of underlying trust, a relationship can quickly go sour, whether between friends, romance partners, or family. A person caught in the grips of drug abuse may continuously lie about their whereabouts, activities, or the people they’re spending time with.
Sometimes trust dissolves in the presence of alcohol or drug addiction because of a pattern of broken promises, letdowns, and disappointments.
For example, a father is coping with severe addiction and proclaims he will attend his child’s next music performance or little league baseball game, only to not show up once again. This causes a rift of mistrust to grow between parent and child.
6. Emotional Distance
When one half of a romantic couple loses control over alcohol or drug use, fights may happen more frequently. The strain of fighting can itself motivate the person to use even more drugs or alcohol, further complicating the dilemma.
At a certain point, this increased fighting can turn into a vicious circle. Without some intervention, including acknowledging that addiction is the disease, the relationship is more likely going to deteriorate further.
Although it can be difficult, loved ones have the power to speak openly about their feelings and help motivate the person to seek therapy and treatment.
In a codependent relationship, there is a power imbalance and a lack of harmony. A codependent person will tend to focus on their partner’s needs, ignoring their own.
The problem here is that the partner with a drug or alcohol problem is being enabled. This could look like bailing your loved one out of jail or making excuses for their absences at work or school that were caused by intoxication.
It’s easy to see, for example, how a codependent person would lie to a boss about her husband being sick when it’s actually the case that he has passed out or has gone missing while out on a bender with friends.
Although we mention several extreme hypotheticals, being in a relationship with someone with addiction is difficult. The good news is that there is hope in recovery for the whole family.
If you have any questions about the drug and alcohol rehab programs available at Ark Behavioral Health, please connect with one of our treatment specialists today.
https://toddcreager.com/ Todd Creager, a renowned marriage and relationship expert in Orange County, talks about 5 ways the alcohol can ruin relationships. From destroying the relationship with yourself, to inhibiting communication, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance and can create major barriers in your relationship. Learn more about Todd’s therapy and counseling services at https://toddcreager.com/. Based out of Huntington Beach, he serves the Orange County area – including Newport Beach, Irvine and Corona del Mar – with expert marriage and sex counseling services. TAKE ACTION: ============ Todd Creager, LCSW, LMFT Todd is a sex expert and therapist in Huntington Beach. He provides relationship counseling to couples throughout Orange County including Irvine, Newport Beach, Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach, Seal Beach and Long Beach. (714) 848-2288. Join Todd on social: ============== Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Relationship… Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/todd_creager/ Twitter – https://twitter.com/toddcreager
The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a dramatic toll on virtually all aspects of life, from the economy, to employment, relationships, public health, and personal health.
In the United States, more than 200,000 individuals have died of the coronavirus. As of October, hundreds of thousands of Americans are filing unemployment claims each week. For all of us, the pandemic has become a time marked by uncertainty, fear, and grief.
According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 40 percent of US adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use issues.
Although much of the general population has admitted to feeling more anxious and depressed during the pandemic, those with substance use and mental health issues face unique challenges.
What’s important to know during this time is that everyone responds to stressful situations differently. There is no wrong way to feel or to react to the changes you may see around you, or in people you love.
Since March 2020, numerous resource guides and directories have been developed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to fill the gaps the pandemic has created in access to care, social support, and ensuring quality and affordable treatment.
Here you’ll find information on:
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and substance use
List of mental health and addiction resources
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about telehealth
caring for a loved one who is struggling
Why Are People Struggling More During The Pandemic?
Mental health difficulties that people are experiencing during the pandemic are not something that can be traced back to a single source. For most people, it’s likely a combination of factors.
The ways that people are impacted by sources of coronavirus-related stress can also differ depending on mental health history, the hardship they’ve personally experienced during the pandemic, and other personal risk factors.
Sources of stress related to the coronavirus pandemic might include:
changes in employment
being an essential worker (or worrying about a loved one who is)
being high-risk for COVID-19 complications
substance use/mental health relapse
severed access to medical and behavioral health services
reduced social support
uncertainty of the timeline of the pandemic
returning to school or work (for yourself or loved ones)
increased attention towards germs/spreading disease
There are a whole host of social, economic, and cultural forces that have driven increases in mental health symptoms in the general population and those with pre-existing mental health issues.
In addition to the pandemic, people are also currently grappling with stress associated with racism, racial discrimination, police violence, and the presidential election.
These various sources of stress can pervade our interpersonal lives, our professional lives, and our interactions with our individual communities and the nation at large. We can see these struggles show up in the workplace—physically, or on digital platforms like Zoom—in the home, on the streets, in educational settings, and in online interactions.
You might find yourself and the people around you demonstrating a short temper, isolating from others, lashing out, and acting in other uncharacteristic ways.
Not all of us feel comfortable sharing the ways we’ve been negatively affected by the pandemic. This is true whether this concerns the loss of a loved one to the coronavirus, or how the pandemic has influenced our mental health and coping habits.
What We Know About Mental Health And The Pandemic
Multiple health agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have reported the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in the United States and globally.
Effects On Mental Health In The General Population
Many people without pre-existing mental health conditions are reporting feelings of increased stress, anxiety, and depression.
In early October, Dr. Joseph Gorden—the director of the National Institute on Mental Health—told CNN that this increase in mental health symptoms has previously been seen in the aftermath of other crises, such as 9/11 and extreme weather events.
One difference with COVID-19 is that the crisis is ongoing, and extends beyond a singular event. The American Psychiatric Association, which surveys Americans every year, recently released their 2020 findings on the state of mental health in America, which included the following:
Nearly 8 in 10 adults say the coronavirus pandemic has been a significant source of stress in their lives
Two in three adults report feeling increased stress during the pandemic
Nearly one in five adults say their mental health is worse than this time last year
More than 75 percent of adults say the future of the nation is a significant source of stress
Generation Z teenagers (ages 13 to 17) and Generation Z adults (18-23) are experiencing elevated stress and depression that may have long-term consequences on health and well-being
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), which conducted a poll in July, many adults are also reporting increases in alcohol or drug use, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, and worsened chronic health conditions.
Effects On Mental Health In People With Mental Health And Substance Use Disorders
Trauma and stress can be major risk factors for substance use and mental health relapse. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s very reasonable to identify this experience as a form of trauma. Across the world, people are facing immense uncertainty, loss of life, and reduced access to supportive resources.
While many sources of pandemic-related stress might be similar to those of the general population, the impact of this stress can have different implications for people with pre-existing mental health and substance use disorders.
This includes people who have:
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
psychotic disorders (e.g. schizophrenia)
substance use disorders
Compared to the general population, people with mental health and substance disorders might face unique challenges.
These could include difficulties accessing mental health services (including medications), severed access to substance use services and related social services, and enhanced reactions to the lack of social support and isolation generated by the pandemic.
Mental Health And Drug Relapse
The effects of the pandemic may provoke drug or alcohol relapse, which can be troubling both for the individual struggling as well as those around them.
This might increase tension in the household, or provoke significant worry and concern among loved ones who aren’t able to visit their struggling loved one due to safety concerns.
Effects of substance use or mental health relapse might include:
Drug overdoses have also been on the rise, as reported by the American Medical Association (AMA). According to the AMA, more than 40 states nationwide have reported increased drug overdose rates in 2020 compared to 2019.
This is significant, as the United States reached an all-time high in total drug overdose deaths in 2019, after seeing a decline from 2017 to 2018.
As reported by NBC, the month of May was the deadliest month for drug overdoses in five years. And according to national data from August, this year is on its way to reaching an all-time high in drug overdoses, with data already showing an 18 percent increase from this time last year.
During the pandemic, several barriers to treatment services—including harm reduction services, such as safe needle exchanges—have emerged, blocking pathways towards seeking help.
People with active substance use issues may have also been cut off from their usual dealers. This might sound positive on the surface. However, this could very well lead to the sort of desperation that might result in seeking drugs from more dangerous sources, where drugs might be laced with other substances or otherwise put the drug user in danger.
Mental Health And Addiction Resources During COVID-19
As millions of people across the United States face greater stress and depression during the pandemic, many existing organizations—national, state, and local—have created and shared resources for mental health and substance use prevention.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of organizations that provide resources for people with mental health and substance use disorders, and their loved ones:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created an exhaustive resource page for mental health during COVID-19.
The agency has compiled a comprehensive list of national helplines, and resources specific to families and children, teens, healthcare workers and first responders, and people in the high risk category for COVID complications.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a government-run organization and resource for individuals, families, and communities impacted by substance abuse. They have compiled a list of COVID-19 resources and resources specific to helping individuals with substance use disorders.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s leading grassroots advocacy organization for individuals and families affected by mental illness. They’ve released an extensive resource guide, featuring information on how to cope with stress, how to seek treatment, and seeking help for loved ones who are incarcerated.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a government-run agency that has released a COVID-19 guide for drug abuse treatment providers, individuals, and families affected by substance use and mental health issues.
Among other things, this guide includes guidance on safely administering naloxone for opioid overdose, virtual recovery resources, and information on telehealth services.
Mental Health America
Mental Health America is a leading national nonprofit organization that has created a COVID-19 specific resource page for individuals and their loved ones affected by mental illness.
This resource page offers general information about mental health and the coronavirus, as well as coping tools, screening tools, and informational sessions on mental health and COVID-19. MHA’s guide also offers resources specific to certain populations.
This includes mental health resources for:
Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)
Psychology Today has an online directory of clinical professionals, psychiatrists, and treatment centers across the United States. Through this website, individuals can search for nearby treatment centers and providers.
Filters for accepted insurance, types of treatment, and preferred treatment modality are also available. This includes specific search functions for finding teletherapy services.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) has moved their meetings online (also accessible by phone) to support current and former addicts across the country. Information about their meetings, how to get connected, and related resources are available here.
Cocaine Anonymous, like NA, is also offering free services for individuals impacted by cocaine use. This includes email support and voice-only online meetings.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
The NIAAA has created a resource page specifically for people navigating the challenges of COVID-19 with a current or previous history of alcohol abuse and addiction. This includes information on virtual support meetings, frequently asked questions about alcohol and the coronavirus, and updates on alcohol sales.
National Support Hotlines For Mental Health, Abuse, And Addiction
Many national and local hotlines exist in the United States to provide support and treatment for individuals in crisis.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, several leading behavioral health organizations have reported receiving enormous spikes in calls from individuals struggling with mental health and substance use issues. If you need immediate help for mental health or substance use-related struggles, you’re not alone.
For immediate support, consider these hotlines:
National Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Helpline: 1-800-931-2237
National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-6264
Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
Veterans Crisis Line (National): 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text: 8388255
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
Teen Line: 1-800-852-8336 or text “TEEN” to 839863
To find local treatment centers, treatment providers, and Telehealth services:
SAMHSA National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889
You can also check your state and county health departments to find localized resources and treatment. Many state and local health departments have existing substance abuse prevention and behavioral health departments.
Local health departments may have additional information on how to report an overdose, where to find safe sharps disposal sites near you, and how to access social support services during COVID-19.
Are Mental Health And Substance Abuse Treatment Centers Open?
Many substance abuse and mental health treatment centers across the United States have remained open at full or partial operation during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure continued care during these difficult times. The types of services currently offered may vary according to the center.
Early on in the pandemic, organizations like the CDC and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released recommendations for how to safely treat patients in psychiatric settings during this time.
These recommendations pertain to certain safety protocols as well as guidelines for maintaining HIPAA privacy standards while delivering telehealth services.
COVID-19 And TeleHealth Services
Since March, many mental health and substance abuse treatment providers have shifted their services online or by phone to prevent COVID-19 exposure.
Telehealth services have become one solution to the safety concerns of in-person interactions between providers and patients. Telehealth refers to digital health services that are conducted by phone, text message, live chat, or video.
Telehealth services may include:
mental health and substance abuse counseling
virtual support groups
low-risk urgent care
physical therapy and occupational therapy
case management and care planning
How TeleHealth Works
The experience of telehealth services can look different depending on the type of service and the provider. Telehealth services can be delivered in real-time by treatment providers, or be recorded, stored, and later shared with patients.
For individuals with mental health and substance use issues, common telehealth services include: counseling, virtual support groups, and other clinical services. These services are offered by both individual treatment providers—such as a counselor—and some rehab centers.
Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have also moved online in some communities, and on a national and regional level. You can learn more about AA’s online options for United States residents here.
Who Can Benefit From Telehealth?
Many of the same benefits that can be received through in-person services can also be received through telehealth. As reported by ABC News, telehealth may be most beneficial for people who are already engaged in care, says Dr. Caleb Banta-Green, a principal research scientist at the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.
Younger people—including children, teens, and young adults—may also be more comfortable using digital communication platforms for telehealth. Generally, younger generations are more technologically savvy and are used to communicating with friends and others through digital communication.
Telehealth may also be beneficial for:
those in acute crisis
people who have relapsed
people who require regular monitoring for mental or physical health conditions
People who are seeking treatment for the first time, or are beginning treatment with a new provider, may struggle more with telehealth.
This doesn’t mean that these first-time patients can’t benefit from telehealth. But it can be more difficult for new providers to assess patients over digital platforms and get an accurate representation of the state of a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health.
Does Insurance Cover Tele-Health?
Insurers vary in their telehealth coverage policies. Where you live in the United States may also affect your coverage and telehealth availability, depending on state laws.
Some private insurers and military insurers like Tricare have moved to cover some or all telehealth services the same as they would in-person services. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) also covers certain telehealth services.
Medicare Advantage plans offer certain telehealth benefits in addition to those offered under original Medicare and are moving to expand.
To learn more about whether your insurance plan covers telehealth services, contact your insurance company or healthcare provider for up-to-date information.
Limitations And Challenges With Telehealth
Telehealth services have become a critical element of many people’s treatment and recovery plans. The use of these services, however, and gaining access to them has not come without its challenges.
Challenges with telehealth services might include:
Cost: Not all insurance providers have moved to cover telehealth services the same as in-person. This means that many people who were previously able to receive coverage for certain services cannot receive the same coverage for services conducted digitally.
Learning curve: Not everyone is technologically savvy or comfortable receiving health services virtually. This has made it more difficult for some people to access treatment services during COVID-19.
Privacy concerns: Some people have concerns about talking about sensitive topics on certain digital platforms. This has deterred some people from accessing health services, and has complicated the process of delivering these services for providers.
Lacking Access to Computer/Wi-Fi: Lacking consistent or stable access to the internet has been a common barrier to care for people with mental health and substance use issues. This is especially true for low-income and homeless populations in need.
Federal health agencies, treatment providers, and insurance companies are continuing to work on addressing some primary concerns of telehealth moving forward. Legislators are also working to remove barriers to telehealth services imposed by state laws and some insurance policies.
If you have questions about using telehealth with an existing provider, you may ask them directly to learn more about how to address applicable limitations.
Caring For A Loved One Who’s Struggling
Watching someone you care about struggle with mental health or substance abuse can be very stressful. With the pandemic making in-person interaction and check-ins more difficult, this can exacerbate the concerns of parents, siblings, children of addicts, friends, and romantic partners.
Taking care of yourself is the most important consideration if you are a caregiver. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you may very well struggle to care for someone else. Neglecting your own needs can also create additional stress and may lead you to become resentful and depressed about your current position.
Several of the organizations shared above offer resources specific to caregivers and parents. If you’re the loved one of someone who is experiencing a mental health-related crisis, your health and well-being matter, too. You deserve the same care and level of compassion you would show your loved one.
For more information about mental health and COVID-19, please check the websites of the CDC, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and local treatment resources for ongoing updates.
At one point or another, we all know someone with substance abuse problems. However, it is sometimes hard to put your finger on. The behaviors build so gradually that it might not be obvious until it’s too late. If there is someone you love that displays the following symptoms, they might suffer from drug or alcohol addiction:
Lack of Energy and Motivation
Weight Loss or Gain
Neglect in Appearance
Odd and Sudden Requests for Money and/or Items Stolen from Home
Falls and Accidents
As much as we want to help them create a new life or bring back their “old selves”, it can’t be done alone. Addiction is a tricky issue that requires the aid of professionals. You find solace in the workers at drug and alcohol detox centers. There are many drug and alcohol detox centers across the nation and not each one will be right for everyone. However, each one will have a similar journey to sobriety.
What to Expect
First, a health care professional will perform an initial comprehensive assessment. This will help them understand the nature of the problem and choose the best route for their patient. They will ask about issues within the past year, then conduct a screening test like NIDA. Following the screening, the patient’s resulting risk level will play a major role in the type of treatment they receive. Risk level will measure as low, moderate, or high. Best Drug Rehab Centers in Florida use all of this information to form a path to sobriety.
Addiction Treatments can consist of medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of both. Behavioral therapy can be individual, group, or a combination. It helps patients see life in a new light, reconsider their actions, and find support. However, this isn’t always enough. When medication is necessary for addiction treatment, each substance has correlating prescriptions to wean them off the drug. The most important task they accomplish is easing painful withdrawal symptoms. Here are just a few examples of what the patient might receive for: Alcohol
After stabilization, these drugs could be required for long term use. To maintain sobriety, taking a combination of these drugs might even be necessary. Although the length of maintenance treatment is controversial, it is proven to be dangerous for patients to quit taking medication. In addition to maintenance treatment via prescription medication, continual therapy and psychosocial services are also a good idea. Even after years of work to break the addiction, it can be very easy to slip into old habits. It is crucial that the patient has a reliable support network. Sobriety will not happen overnight and cannot be done alone. So where can you go for help?
Where to Go
Addiction Treatment is different for everyone and can be dangerous to attempt without professional help. Since every patient needs something different, there are several drug and alcohol detox centers from which to choose. In fact, there are roughly 15,000 drug and alcohol detox centers in the country. Regardless of where you choose to bring your loved one, there will be two main types of care:
Outpatient facilities are the most common and the best option for lower risk individuals. In these situations, patients report to the center each day but are able to return home at night. Consequently, patients have more freedom in outpatient services and are able to maintain everyday life. They don’t have to put their GED, college, work schedule, family, or other obligations on hold. In addition to retaining some degree of independence, outpatient drug and alcohol detox centers offer an environment safe from temptation.
Inpatient facilities are very similar to outpatient centers except that provide full-time supervision. Although they are less common, they are the best option for high-risk patients. It completely removes them from environments where they are likely to face temptation to old habits. Since many victims of addiction also struggle with other health issues, outpatient facilities offer full-time medical care. Although they are more expensive and reduce the patient’s independence, it is worth the effort in severe cases. The time and money spent on drug and alcohol detox centers could be a matter of life and death. Don’t wait until it’s too late to find help.
How to Choose a Detox Center
When deciding on the best drug and alcohol detox centers for your loved one, there are important questions to ask. During your search, you should also research and tour the facilities before your final decision. Throughout these tours, here are some crucial questions to ask to ensure the patient’s comfort:
Can the patient use a cell phone or computer?
Do you accept the patient’s current insurance?
Does the facility accommodate diet restrictions and preferences?
Can the patient have visitors?
What kind of resources and amenities do you offer the patient?
Asking these big questions could make the biggest difference in the journey to sobriety.
You are Stronger than Your Addiction
Even after addiction treatment is sought, it won’t be an easy ride. There will be a lot of heartache, stress, and times where you just want to give in. Often it seems like the bottle, needle, or straw is just part of who you are. That’s not true. You are not your addiction. An addiction to drugs and alcohol will place you in dangerous situations with dangerous people. Those people are not your friends. The drugs and alcohol are the only link in that relationship and it’s time to break it. Even if you don’t have a stable support system, you won’t have to do it alone. Professionals in drug and alcohol detox centers will not only help you break the addiction but help maintain sobriety too. There is hope. Please don’t wait until it’s too late. Find help today and rediscover the true “you” that addiction buried.