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How COVID-19 Is Changing The Fight Against Addiction

Addiction treatment providers are turning to telemedicine in the face of COVID-19 / Getty
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COVID-19 is upending the daily lives of people across the globe, and that includes people struggling with addiction who aren’t able to meet in-person for 12-step programs and therapy sessions.

Dr. Matt Polacheck, director of outpatient services at the Hazelden Betty Ford Center in West Los Angeles, said he’s happy the facility has been able to transfer more than 1,300 patients over to telehealth services.

“The beauty of recovery is really in community and when you see someone’s face that you didn’t think you were going to see because of this pandemic, it’s a very comforting safe feeling for people,” Polacheck said.

UCLA psychiatry Professor Dr. Timothy Fong said while he does have serious concerns about people with limited internet access, this is a brave new world for virtual treatment.

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“It’s so interesting — patients are showing me their home environment,” Fong said. “It’s very informative where you get to see how people live and that brings up things to talk about in therapy.”

Fong says for some, expanding telehealth is making it easier to get treated for addiction, and he hopes that will continue well after COVID-19.


COVID-19 Is Changing The Fight Against Addiction