Nijmegen Institute for Scientist-Practitioners in Addiction

Psychological Impact of the Acute COVID-19 Period on Patients With Substance Use Disorders: We Are All in This Together.

TitelPsychological Impact of the Acute COVID-19 Period on Patients With Substance Use Disorders: We Are All in This Together.
PublicatietypeJournal Article
Jaar van publicatie2020
Auteursde Jong CAJ, de Jong-Verhagen JG, Pols R., Verbrugge CAG, Baldacchino A
UitgaveBasic and Clinical Neuroscience, 11(3.Covid19), 163-172.
Volume6 June
NummerSpecial Issue on Covid-19
Start Page163 - 172
Type of Articlea qualitative design study

Introduction: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) results from Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). it is now a pandemic that affects us all. For patients
referring to the addiction care systems, this pandemic can create additional vulnerabilities. A
great deal of effort has made to re-organize the care systems for patients with addiction. Our
study focuses on the voice of our patients, on clues to adapt treatment, and on the impact of the
pandemic on the therapeutic alliance.
Methods: A qualitative design was used to develop a description and understanding of general
and clinically relevant aspects of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifteen addicted
patients (11 under treatment and 4 in recovery) were interviewed by 4 interviewers according
to the COREQ (consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research).
Results: COVID-19 has had a serious impact on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Interviewees shared their anxieties about their health and the health of their relatives.
Frightening thoughts were associated with a range of negative feelings and behaviors, such as
stress, anger, avoidance, and isolation. The use of psychoactive substances differed between
the patients in treatment with those who are in stable recovery. In the former, all succeeded in
staying abstinent. They have experienced that solidarity and connectedness were essential in
sustaining their recovery. Those still in treatment were fighting against the temptation to start
using again; they felt emotionally isolated and sometimes patronized by health care workers.
Conclusion: The elaboration of the interviewees on the therapeutic relationship provides
promising clues to optimize that relationship. Remembering this common expression, “we
are all in this together,” shared decision making could very well be used to shape effective and
receptive treatment interventions during the different challenges faced at different stages of the
COVID-19 epidemic.