Older Adults Opting for Home Treatment in a COVID World

The world has undergone one of the most rapid changes in history in one of the shortest amounts of time in 2020. Six months ago, who could have predicted that we would be paying for our shopping through a Perspex screen, people would be hoarding canned goods, and that we would be on the largest nationwide lockdown since WW2? Coronavirus has altered the way many things are done, including how people are drinking and taking drugs, and how treatment for drug and alcohol addiction and mental health is delivered.
Throughout lockdown though, human life has continued as (close to) normal for some people. However, lockdown has also isolated a large section of society, in particular older people, who have been forced to shield and may have not been able to see their loved ones and close friends. Whilst some people have reduced their drinking during lockdown, 21% of adults who drink regularly have increased their usage 1. The lockdown has also affected people’s mental health, in particular older people 2. This could be due to the link between isolation and depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline3, and also due to the stress of potentially being labelled “at risk”.
Despite this increase in drinking and, presumably, drug-taking, many residential rehabs have been forced to close their doors to new clients. Some have even permanently shut down. The good news is that there are some treatment facilities that are able to offer bespoke recovery programmes to help their clients get their lives back on track.
What is rehab? Everyone has their own perceptions of it, and for someone who has never stepped foot inside one it can a baffling experience at first. Traditionally, rehabs offer group therapy, which has been shown to be effective for some people, although it is not without its problems.
Interpersonal relations may impact on the efficiency of group therapy4, which may be particularly pertinent to older people who may struggle to connect to younger members of the group. In these times of Covid-19 it may also be a health concern to be shut in to a closed facility with many people who have probably not been adhering to social distancing and quarantining.
People may also have concerns about other group members maintaining confidentiality in a group setting, particularly if they are a high-profile individual. “Social loafing” is a problem which affects all groups, and describes some individuals taking a backseat to ride on the success of other group members 5. Unfortunately, re-admission to rehab is usually a non-negotiable affair; one a patient arrives they are with the group until they are discharged.
This can have a compounding effect on older adults seeking treatment, who are already faced with multiple challenges when moving into recovery. Typically an addict’s behaviour will affect those around them, in particular their families6, with the continuous lies and broken promises that addiction can entail placing an incredible strain on relationships. This results in many older addicts and alcoholics being “written off” by their loved ones as “incapable of change”.
Despite this potential perception as “unchangeable”, the number of older addicts seeking drug treatment is increasing7. Recovery from addiction has been attained at all ages, and is more than possible for anyone given the right support. Addcounsel deliver a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to those suffering from addiction and mental health, which can be delivered to clients from the comfort of their own homes.
The benefit of this home-based approach is that it will be delivered by members of our team, all of whom have adhered to strict coronavirus protocols and who are regularly tested. It also allows the client to negate some of the potential pitfalls that a group-therapy environment may contain, and to focus entirely on themselves from a place which they know to be safe. If being in a home-environment is found to be potentially triggering for our clients, even with the support from our live in staff, then the use of one of our luxury, private central-London properties can be used for their treatment.
Addcounsel understands that addiction is heavily impacted by an individual’s life circumstances and experiences. This is why we deliver a bespoke, non-judgemental service, which is carefully tailored to a client’s personal needs. Our programme is informed by analysing our clients biological, sociological, and environmental factors which contribute to disease so that an individualised recovery program. This can include, but are not limited to, the use of family therapy, behavioural therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, nutritionists, and personal trainers, with the aim of treating the whole individual rather than just the disease.

1 Knopf, Alison. “Heaviest Drinkers Still Drinking During Lockdown: UK Research”. Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly, vol 32, no. 20, 2020, pp. 5-6. Wiley, doi:10.1002/adaw.32725. Accessed 27 July 2020.

2 Webb, Lucy. “COVID‐19 Lockdown: A Perfect Storm For Older People’s Mental Health”. Journal Of Psychiatric And Mental Health Nursing, 2020. Wiley, doi:10.1111/jpm.12644. Accessed 27 July 2020.

3 Novotney, A. (2019). The risks of social isolation. American Psychological Association50(5), 32.

4 Macnair-Semands, Rebecca R., and Karen P. Lese. “Interpersonal Problems And The Perception Of Therapeutic Factors In Group Therapy”. Small Group Research, vol 31, no. 2, 2000, pp. 158-174. SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/104649640003100202. Accessed 27 July 2020.

5 Gilbert, Paul, and Kent G Bailey. Genes On The Couch. Taylor And Francis, 2014.

6 Barnard, Marina. Drugs In The Family. Jessica Kingsley, 2006.

7 Pascarelli, Emil F., and William Fischer. “Drug Dependence In The Elderly”. The International Journal Of Aging And Human Development, vol 5, no. 4, 1974, pp. 347-356. SAGE Publications, doi:10.2190/nx0l-utwe-7jpl-b48h. Accessed 27 July 2020.


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