As we all know, COVID-19 and the events of the past several months have had a severe impact on the economy. Businesses have been forced to close, employees have been laid off and several industries have been sent into financial turmoil. Truth be told, many people in the recovery field have been experiencing the same pain. NPR recently delved into the impact the coronavirus has had on treatment centers throughout the United States and it is not pretty.
In an article published this week, NPR writer Yuki Noguchi touched on new stats relating to recovery workers and facility operators. They come from The American Society of Addiction Medicine and The National Council for Behavioral Health. According to their recent findings, 92 percent of all U.S. residential and outpatient centers have had to cut back on their programs since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
The irony in all of this, which Noguchi correctly calls out, is that addiction issues appear to be on the rise since the start of the coronavirus. But a lack of entrants to facilities (due to quarantines) and sluggish results with recovery telehealth appear to have caused a slowdown. Chuck Ingoglia, the CEO of the National Council of Behavioral Health, spoke out about the findings.
“A large majority of residential and outpatient centers have had cut back their programs, forcing many to furlough employees or lay them off,” Ingoglia told NPR. “A month into the pandemic, two-thirds of those centers said they had enough cash to last three months or less. If you ask me, it is a self-perpetuating cycle. You have fewer staff or fewer programs, which means you can treat fewer people. This, in turn, has long term impact on your revenue.”
To help rectify this, the National Council and other treatment advocates have requested $38 billion in emergency funding from Congress. So far, those pleas have gone unanswered and more trouble may be ahead as the economy sees further trouble in the coming months.
Nora Volkow, who acts as director of The National Institute on Drug Abuse, also spoke with NPR. She believes there is a future in recovery telehealth (as in virtual Zoom counseling sessions). In many ways, it can be more economical for facilitators. But the truth of the matter is, it’s still a long way from being fully adopted.
“The use of telehealth is something that I hope is here to stay — I certainly will be talking about it,” Volkow concluded. “My hope is this method of treatment will play a key role in helping people and treatment centers as they weather through these difficult times.”