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Opioid Awareness

Addiction and COVID-19: Specialized Treatment Matters

Cynthia Moreno Tuohy, B.S.W.

Executive Director, NAADAC

Although the pandemic on everyone’s mind is COVID-19, this country is also in the midst of an addiction pandemic. Both are destructive, affect entire communities, and claim lives. Both have unintended and often misunderstood symptoms and side effects, and both can cause lasting harm. 

Addiction is a brain disease. Only licensed or credentialed addiction professionals are trained to properly recognize and treat the complexity of addiction, as well as any potential co-occurring disorders. 

Going to a professional 

Addiction professionals have specialized competencies, knowledge, and skills. They understand addiction, and have demonstrated through education, experience, and examination that they are uniquely qualified to provide prevention, screening, intervention, and treatment for substance misuse and addiction. 

Failing to properly identify, diagnose and treat an addiction can be fatal. NAADAC’s National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals has the most up-to-date tests and eligibility requirements for addiction professionals to evidence their competencies, knowledge, and skills in treating the complex disease of addiction.  

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As 2020 goes on and the pandemics wage, there is ongoing and ever-evolving stress in daily life. We know that stress makes people more vulnerable to addiction or relapse. Now more than ever, it is imperative that at-risk individuals seek the specialized treatment that they need. 

A silver lining

The good news to be found in this pandemic age is that treatment via telehealth is becoming increasingly permitted and available. Licensed and credentialed addiction professionals across the country are increasingly utilizing telehealth, which allows more immediate access and less restrictions to reaching and receiving treatment. Not only does telehealth allow individuals with addiction to receive the specialized treatment they need without potential exposure to COVID-19, it also removes hurdles such as the need for transportation and childcare.

Treatment by a licensed or certified addiction professional is the best choice for an at-risk person with a substance use disorder. Addiction-specific education, training, and clinical supervision matters. It can make the difference in creating successful pathways to recovery for those affected by substance use disorder and can ultimately be the difference between life and death.

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