IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Social isolation, increased anxiety and struggles with substance abuse may be another rising epidemic in our neighborhoods.
Dr. Richard Mattis, at the substance use disorder clinic 'Ideal option,' tells us the underlying issues."Can't get them to see their doctor because their doctor's office isn't open. You know lost their job. Can't get refills on medications. So COVID-19 has created kind of a train wreck nightmare across the nation, for a lot of our patients."
While telemedicine has been increasing throughout the nation, Mattis tells us, it wasn't really an option for substance use disorder doctors like himself in Idaho until COVID-19 opened that door, "But it has not really been possible with opioid use disorder or substance use disorder. So the government has relaxed their regulations on that for COVID-19, so that allowed us to be able to see patients in their home."
Idaho is in the top 10 in the nation for misuse of prescription opioids, according to recent studies done by the national survey on drug use and health.
"It's super important that people realize that there is a problem out there even if you don't see it. There is a huge problem and I think we're in a prime place now to realize that remote visits to telemedicine can help. They are not the answer, the end all be all, but they are definitely a tool that can be used to help people," Mattis said.
Through a virtual appointment at Ideal Option, new and current patients can continue to receive the help and medications they need throughout this pandemic. Mattis tells us, in some ways, virtual appointments have brought down the barrier for those patients who weren't comfortable making a visit in person.
Mattis tells us it's they're hoping the government will continue to allow them to see patients through virtual appointments even after the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information on receiving substance use disorder care at Ideal Option, click here.