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This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Bill Shanahan, Clinical Director of Priory’s Addiction Services and Medical Director at Priory Hospital Roehampton.

At Priory, we recognise that addictions can be very difficult to cope with and can have a negative impact on lots of different areas of your life. This, coupled with the ongoing global pandemic and all of the additional challenges that come with this, has made it more important than ever for you to reach out and seek help.

Adapting our addiction treatment programme during the coronavirus outbreak

The coronavirus outbreak has led to many of us having to adapt to a lifestyle that is completely unfamiliar. For people experiencing alcohol and substance abuse issues, this situation can be incredibly challenging. In this video, Priory’s Pamela Roberts explains how our addiction treatment team have been working hard to quickly and effectively adapt our practices so that we are able to safely provide addiction support.

How is COVID-19 impacting on people struggling with an addiction?

We are already starting to see research looking into the impact that COVID-19 is having on people with substance abuse issues. Some of this research has found:

  • People with substance abuse issues may be more at risk of becoming very unwell if they get COVID-19. This is because they may have underlying respiratory problems as a result of smoking or inhaling substances, or their immune systems may be weaker because of their drug and alcohol abuse
  • Fear, loneliness and isolation can be especially hard for people who are struggling with an addiction. A lack of social support and face-to-face contact with loved ones can mean you want to reach for a drink or take drugs even more often as a way to distract yourself. If you’re feeling anxious and lonely, you may also start engaging in other unhealthy behaviours such as online gaming or gambling, which can cause further problems
  • There’s a lot of false information going around at the moment, which can be very harmful to everyone but especially those who are struggling with addiction issues.

This is why it’s so important to get the support you need for your addiction, to help you get back on track.

Lucia's story

Lucia shares her experiences of addiction treatment during COVID-19 at Priory Hospital Chelmsford. She talks about how the treatment has been adapted, what she is looking forward to when she goes home, and her plans for recovery. She also provides advice to others who may be experiencing addiction issues, and who may feel that their behaviours are worsening due to the current COVID-19 situation.

Priory can still provide expert addiction treatment during this time

Some people may think they’re able to stop their alcohol or drug abuse on their own. However, for many, this isn’t realistic and attempting to withdraw from these substances without help can actually be dangerous. Seeking support at an alcohol rehabilitation centre or a drug rehabilitation clinic may be the only suitabel option. 

It’s important to recongise that you’re not alone during this time – Priory can help. Our addiction treatment team at Priory have been working hard to adapt our approach for treating addictions so we can provide safe and effective addiction support to as many people as possible. You don’t have to suffer in silence during this pandemic; we can still support you every step of the way towards recovery.

Going digital

Much like the rest of the world right now, we have been busy getting our addiction services online, so you can take the first step from the comfort and safety of your own home.

We are able to offer free addiction assessments for new patients either over the phone, using online communication platforms such as Skype. This means you’re able to receive a thorough online addiction assessment with a trained expert, without even having to leave your sofa.

During your assessment, we’ll be able to explore your concerns and assess whether you’re suitable for residential addiction treatment at one of our rehab centres. Once you’ve had your initial assessment and it’s been deciced that you’re well-suited to receive inpatient treatment with us, we have measures in place to ensure we’re conducting all the necessary health checks on new patients.

As well as following social distancing guidelines, many of our rehab centres have also put a whole range of digital measures in place. These include:

  • Telephone counselling for patients requiring 1:1 support
  • 1:1 phone calls between current patients and peer supporters
  • Aftercare sessions being done using Zoom video calling or individually over the phone
  • Using video calling to link in with local 12-Step meetings (this can be used both when you’re staying with us and once you’ve been discharged home)

What’s it like being an inpatient during lockdown?

If you’re receiving inpatient addiction treatment with us during the coronavirus outbreak, you can be assured that you’ll still be getting the highest quality treatment and support we can offer. We’ll do all we can to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible and we’ve put measures in place to ensure you’re still getting the support you need, even with the social distancing guidelines. While the level of connection we can provide may need to look different at the moment, it continues to be a key element of our addiction treatment. We really are with you every step of the way.

While you’re with us, you’ll have your own en-suite bedroom for the duration of your stay, which will be modern and beautifully decorated. This means you can spend relaxing time in the comfort and privacy of your own room. However, you’ll still benefit from round-the-clock support, should you need this.

During therapy, we make sure we’re sticking to social distancing guidelines by ensuring that all patients, therapists and other addiction specialists are at least two metres apart. We also have strong infection control measures, such as regular hand washing, in place.

We’ve done our best to maintain as many key elements of addiction treatment as possible. However, in some of our sites, we’re unable to offer some group or family sessions at the moment, for safety reasons. Limiting visitors is essential to make sure we’re ‘doing our bit’ in reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, you’ll be able to stay connected to your family and loved ones through calling and using video technology, as much as you want.

Our secondary addiction service, The Elphis

People who’ve completed a 28-day inpatient stay with us can often find the thought of going home following addiction treatment to be quite daunting. This is especially the case at the moment. However, we also offer a secondary residential addiction treatment service, The Elphis, which you may find especially useful at this time. 

We’re still able to assess and admit people safely at The Elphis, meaning that if you don’t feel ready to go home into self-isolation, you can still have some ongoing support and connection with the recovery community. Being in a recovery-focused, therapeutic environment may be very useful if you feel you need additional support to maintain your sobriety at this time.

Free aftercare following addiction treatment

Now, more than ever, we’re truly committed to your ongoing recovery once you leave addiction treatment. That’s why we offer free aftercare for 12 months to everyone who stays with us for 28 days or more. We are able to offer aftercare for life to people who receive treatment at Priory Hospital Roehampton or Manor Clinic.

Our aftercare service provides you with ongoing, 24-hour support, all of which can now be accessed online or over the telephone. Our teams are dedicated to making sure you’re supported as much as possible when you leave treatment, so you can continue making progress in your recovery.

[1] Volkow ND. Collision of the COVID-19 and Addiction Epidemics. Ann Intern Med. 2020; [Epub ahead of print 2 April 2020]. doi:

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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding addiction treatment, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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