Substance withdrawal can be difficult, both emotionally and physically. Sometimes people need professional care and support to make the withdrawal process safer.
CAMH has been providing medication-assisted withdrawal services long before the onset of COVID-19. But as overdose deaths hit new highs throughout most of Canada, fueled by an increasingly toxic illegal drug supply and the social isolation and stress sparked by the pandemic, the need for this kind of service has never been greater.
Despite the logistical challenges posed by COVID-19, the Medical Withdrawal Service (MWS) partnered with the newly-created Intensive Recovery Discharge Team (IRDT) to work collaboratively to provide care in the midst of service disruptions at a time where patients need increased support. The IRDT provides two weeks of intensive remote support to patients who have recently been discharged from the MWS and other acute care units at CAMH. This team offers continued support with relapse prevention, strategies to help patients meet the challenges that lie ahead, and overall mental health support.
“This is a new and innovative model of care that the team developed in response to the challenges that COVID-19 has presented. The IRDT meets with patients before they are discharged from the hospital to act as a bridge for them as they transition back into the community. Patients have told us how much they value receiving continued support from care providers that they are familiar with during the two weeks following their inpatient stay in the MWS,” said Holly Ito, a Social Worker in the MWS and IRDT.
The MWS consists of a team of nurses, pharmacists and doctors; along with a social worker, occupational therapist, dietician and recreation therapist who work with patients to develop a comprehensive care plan based on their unique needs.