Recovery after the Pandemic

We might try to explain the phenomenon of the plague, but, above all, should learn what it had to teach us. –Albert Camus, The Plague (1948)

The novel coronavirus pandemic will exert profound effects on the future of addiction treatment and recovery. Based on the pandemic’s anticipated reach, severity, and duration, we will likely witness the following in the months and years to come.   

*Recovery support needs will increase as direct and indirect consequence of the pandemic by accelerating substance use disorder (SUD) progression and increasing SUD vulnerability among a larger pool of people self-medicating pandemic-related distress.

*Recovery support service needs will intensify due to the closure of local addiction treatment programs that lack sufficient capitalization to weather the loss of service income.

*The movement of recovery support to a primarily digital culture and the expansion of E-treatment and E-recovery support services will accelerate exponentially, exposing the value, limitations, and unintended consequences of this shift.

*The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be far greater and more prolonged than presently anticipated, which will extend the historical focus of recovery communities on emotional and social recovery support into the arena of financial and employment assistance.

*The strong service ethic within communities of recovery will be extended in more formal ways to address the larger needs of local communities.

*Increased international contact among people in recovery sharing digital recovery support platforms and improved digital language translation technologies will contribute to the rise of a global recovery community.

*Increased knowledge of public health concepts and technologies will spur increased interest in population-based interventions to prevent and mitigate alcohol and other drug problems across the spectrums of severity, complexity, and chronicity.

*The elevated status of scientists and science-grounded professional helpers emerging from the pandemic will spur increased expectations for research reporting on methods of addiction treatment and recovery support and a backlash against, highly promoted products and services confirmed to be unhelpful or harmful.

*The coronavirus pandemic’s exposure of the weaknesses of the U.S. healthcare system will accelerate demands for health care reform—reforms that will potentially exert profound effects on the future of addiction treatment and recovery support.

*When the viral dust settles and the body count is complete, the health disparities between Black and White and between the wealthy and poor and working class people will expose wrenching realities we as a culture can no longer ignore.

Click HERE to read an expanded discussion of these predictions.

Change can be regressive or progressive, and change always carries the shadow of unexpected consequences. We must move gently into the brave new world that is upon us, taking care that we do not abandon long-held core values in our efforts to survive, at the same time we capitalize on new opportunities to expand the reach of recovery.

Based on what you have observed in your local community, what predictions would you add to this list?