The novel coronavirus is changing the way that providers in Allegheny County and across the nation treat people with drug and alcohol use disorders, particularly those who use medications like methadone and Suboxone to maintain their recovery.
“This is such a tumultuous time for everyone, especially those with substance abuse disorders,” said Daniel Garrighan, facilities director at Jade Wellness Center, an outpatient treatment center with locations on the South Side, Wexford and Monroeville, that offers services including Suboxone, Vivitrol and ReVia.
Those treatments, plus methadone — all commonly referred to as medication-assisted treatment or MAT — stave off cravings and help people stay off of illegal opioids.
Vivitrol and ReVia can also be taken for alcohol use disorder. But they are typically provided at regular office visits, sometimes daily in the case of methadone. The coronavirus crisis has made such visits much more difficult, if not impossible.
“We have already faced our own epidemic with this subgroup of folks with the opiate crisis,” said Garrighan. “We saw such outrageous fatalities over the past 10 years and we just started to get a grip on it and then something like this happens. We have this social responsibility and we don’t want to neglect [patients] but we also need to take necessary precautions with the spread of COVID-19.”