Aaron Wojack / The New York Times

Addiction experts are calling the coronavirus pandemic a national relapse trigger. COVID-19 ultimately has caused growing demand for addiction recovery services.

April 9, 2020

Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services Moves Out-Patient Care Online, Inpatient Treatment Continues

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While COVID-19 has increased the risk for in-person treatment, there has been a growing demand for addiction recovery services. To continue services, Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services moved out-patient treatment online and is screening all patients for COVID-19 symptoms before admitting them to inpatient services.

“We have had an increase in inquiries about our services as a result of COVID. These are stressful, unprecedented times for all of us,” wrote Brad Walworth, CARS outreach specialist.

People with pre-existing mental health conditions, including substance use, may respond to crisis-related stress more strongly, making effective addiction recovery services a critical aspect of the public health response, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

CARS discontinued group activities in both facilities and paused all services which require outside providers and volunteers.

“We are offering initial needs assessments by phone at this time,” he continued. “Most services are being conducted entirely by phone in order to enhance comfort and safety in response to COVID-19 while at the same time allowing people to continue receiving critical access to addiction recovery services during these unprecedented times.” .

According to its website, CARS, which has one location in Ithaca and two locations in Trumansburg, provides three levels of treatment.

A residential treatment program is designed for “individuals who are unable to participate in or comply with treatment outside of a 24-hour structured treatment setting,” according to the program, and generally lasts six to eight weeks. Outpatient rehabilitation services are now based on client need, and more flexible outpatient treatment services are also provided.

According to its website, CARS has a variety of treatment methods, including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and trauma-informed care, among other services. Family, individual and group counseling are also options that can foster healthy relationships and social support networks as part of the recovery process.

The Residential Center is prioritizing admission of people who have been in medically monitored setting, such as a detox and other inpatient programs, and are asymptomatic for COVID-19, in order to reduce the risk of admitting someone with COVID-19.

Whenever possible, staff are working from home, and clinicians who have to come in to work are provided personal protective equipment while screening patients upon entry and administering medication.

“We are confirming history and phone screening before potential new admissions are approved to come to our Residential Rehabilitation facility,” Walworth wrote.

Walworth encouraged anyone considering entering outpatient care through CARS to call the center first.

“Telehealth is proving invaluable for enabling us to continue to provide critical services to and connect with people in need,” Walworth wrote. “We are very impressed with telehealth results so far.”

Correction, April 10, 2:36 p.m.: A previous version of this article misstated the operating hours for outpatient care at Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services. Outpatient Rehabilitation Services is based on client need; it does not operate four hours a day, five days a week.