There is no doubt that the United States is facing an opioid epidemic. And while the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on families across the nation, for those battling addictions, the fight has been especially difficult.
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, half of substance abuse disorder organizations surveyed reported an increase in demand over the past three months. Meanwhile, the same report shows an even bigger increase in programs that have had to either close their doors completely or turn patients away. And in a recent report released by the American Medical Association, more than 40 states have reported increases in opioid overdoses during the pandemic, including Illinois.
“Substance abuse has grown considerably worse during the pandemic. So many are isolated, let go from their jobs, there is fear, anxiety, boredom, stress, financial stressors—a tragic recipe leading to the use of substances and development of addiction,” says Dr. David Kushner, medical director of BRIGHTSIDE Clinic which has locations throughout the Chicago area including Northbrook.
BRIGHTSIDE Clinic has made a commitment to continue helping those suffering from addiction during this difficult time, despite resources drying up across the nation.
“At BRIGHTSIDE, we continue to see patients at all costs as we have done throughout the pandemic,” adds Kushner, a boardcertified doctor in addiction medicine. “We offer immediate access and are aware of the urgency to get patients in the door within 24 hours to begin treatment.”
This is not always the case in the addiction recovery field.
“At many centers you are waitlisted, by the time space becomes available, relapse may have already occurred, or a patient may have lost their drive to remain in recovery,” says Kushner.
What does recovery look like at BRIGHTSIDE?
“For opioid sufferers, upon arrival, we prescribe a medication that blocks the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. They can often go back to work the next day without missing a beat and then we can start talking about relapse prevention,” details Kushner. “For so many what is stopping them from seeking treatment is that they think their only option is to go away for 30-plus days, but that may not be the case. We can see patients in our office for a regular appointment and then they can return to their daily life.”
Families are also encouraged to be a part of the recovery process. One of BRIGHTSIDE’s key goals is to educate not only the patient, but also family and friends about addiction and how they can help their loved one recover.
And while the road to recovery may be long, it is a unique journey for every patient.
“Don’t get me wrong, the road to recovery is long and patients will probably be with us for a while, but we are here to keep them in treatment and to save lives,” explains Kushner.
If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please seek immediate professional help. BRIGHTSIDE Clinic is accessible 24-hours for immediate assistance. For more information, please call 224-205-7863 or visit brightsideclinic.com.