All businesses and professionals have had to adjust their behavior and practices in accordance with new guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Operating under these guidelines has helped clients continue mental health and addiction treatment safely. By being mindful of those who are feeling fearful and stressed about getting sick or potentially spreading the illness, we can help our clients understand the safety measures that we practice. By setting an example and teaching our clients how to stay safe and healthy, we can give them peace of mind as we work through this crisis.

The Basics of COVID-19 Safety

By now, many of us have become accustomed to frequently washing our hands, using sanitizer when needed, social distancing, and wearing masks. As professionals, we want to help our clients feel safe from the potential spread of COVID-19 and set an example of best practices for them. Keep some of the following in mind if you are meeting with clients: Utilize telehealth sessions via phone or video chat services when applicable to minimize face-to-face contact. If you meet with people face-to-face, maintain social distancing of at least six feet and wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose. You may want to consider keeping additional masks on hand for clients to use if they forget or cannot obtain one. Keep hand sanitizer with you and use this whenever hand-washing with soap and water is not available. Soap and warm water are still the best way to ensure your hands are clean. If you do use hand sanitizer while out, wash your hands immediately upon returning home. Follow other guidelines and health screenings as recommended by your state or city. For a more comprehensive list, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for updates, important information, and other guidelines.

The Importance of Safety Protocols

Adhering to guidelines is crucial during this time. As people feel stressed due to lockdowns, restrictions, unemployment, and fear of the virus, alcohol consumption rates are increasing. Professionals need to operate safely to remain open for a potential influx of clients struggling with addiction. We can also be flexible and adapt to the changes by using telehealth and technology to support our clients. Many people are feeling stressed during this pandemic and may turn to As boredom, isolation, stress, and anxiety increase, people become more at-risk for turning to maladaptive coping skills. As the pandemic continues, those who were not struggling at first may be feeling exhausted by the changes and vulnerable to using substances and alcohol to cope.

Assuring Your Clients of Safety Measures

One of the potential barriers to treatment during a pandemic is having safety concerns. We know that being in a safe and secure environment is paramount to recovery. Some people may be struggling with addiction, yet they are concerned about being safe and staying healthy at a rehabilitation center or other mental health facility. Our clients need to know that we are doing all we can to assure their health and safety during this time. We need to stay updated on new regulations and guidelines. Due to increases in cases following holidays, some states or cities may institute stricter protocols to keep people safe. We can let our clients know what steps we are taking to ensure their safety. Rehabilitation centers are considered essential services due to the potential increase in alcohol or substance use during the pandemic. By keeping our facilities clean and safe, we can be sure to meet the needs of our communities.

The Unique Challenges of COVID-19

We can also stay up-to-date on information about the unique situations many people find themselves in due to the pandemic. As people are losing jobs or unable to socialize, they may need help connecting to other services, like unemployment or virtual 12-step programs. Many of our clients may have questions about fulfilling their needs and dealing with their immediate worries. As professionals, we might want to stay informed about the resources that our clients could benefit from to help during this crisis.

The Stress of the Essential Worker

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many challenges and issues that are indirectly related to the virus. As we all take measures to restrict and limit our contact with other people, we face unique challenges and disruptions. Remember that as professionals, we might need to check-in with ourselves as well. As essential workers, we might feel burdened with responsibility or struggle with our own concerns about the pandemic. As you teach others to reach out for support, make sure that you are reaching out for help when you need it, too! Treating clients during the pandemic is vital due to the increased stress, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, and isolation that can cause addictive behaviors. People in recovery may be at a greater risk of relapse. Those without a history of addiction may develop a disorder by turning to alcohol or other substances to cope with changes or challenges in their lives. We can continue to treat clients safely by adhering to state or city regulations and guidelines. Since these regulations might change due to increases in COVID-19 cases, we need to keep ourselves informed about new policies. As essential workers, we also need to keep ourselves safe and healthy. We can better serve our clients when we are managing our own stress levels due to these changes. We are all in this together. Reach out for support when you need it so that you can help others when they need you. If you are working with men in the Atlanta area needing additional support, Safety Net Recovery is here. We provide sober living services for men in recovery. Call us today at (770) 432-9774.

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