Director Dale Woolery says he has heard some talk of problems. “Anecdotally we hear that with the social distancing and the stay-at-home recommendations in some cases — there is a concern that some of that isolation and other factors that are related could be a breeding ground for more substance use, substance use disorder and mental health issues,” according to Woolery.
Woolery isn’t ready to draw any conclusions yet. “It’s too early to know if it is substantiated with the data or that we have empirical evidence. But, I do hear it anecdotally and there are some indications. I think even the CDC has started making reference to this,” Woolery says.
He says his agency is keeping an eye on the situation. “We’re actually scanning data and doing interviews to try and see what correlations there may or may not be if we can tell, between the pandemic and substance abuse disorder in Iowa,” he says, “and I know others are looking at that too. I think it’s just probably a little too early to have any definitive takeaways on that.”
Woolery says the drug abuse treatments have changed with the restrictions brought on by the pandemic. “You have a lot more therapy and substance use disorder treatment being provided via telehealth. There again — I think the jury is mainly out on how effective is that — and how does that compare with in-person treatment,” Woolery says.
He says the drug treatment is just one of the areas where people have had to use workarounds to find a way to deliver the services during the outbreak. “The workarounds may not be as good in some cases. In other cases they may actually be better and make it easier to attend or to access something,” Woolery says. “The effectiveness though is something I think is going to take a while to kind of figure out. How effective is the tele-whatever compared to the in-person whatever.”
Woolery says their reviews and the reviews of the data by others should give some batter answers on these questions down the road.