Addiction Recovery Now - Addiction Treatment during COVID-19 - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Addiction Recovery Now – Addiction Treatment during COVID-19

Image by Reggi Tirtakusumah from Pixabay 

While COVID-19 has shut down large swaths of American life, one thing that has remained unaffected by the pandemic is the need for addiction treatment.

But how can treatment centers meet that demand while still protecting their patients and staff from infection?

That is one of the challenges facing Innovo Detox, a first-of-its-kind addiction treatment center based in Adams County, Pennsylvania, just north of the Maryland border.

Like many facilities, Innovo is taking precautions to prevent coronavirus outbreaks and deal with any that might occur by implementing all recommended CDC and state guidelines, working with local testing labs, and observing social distancing and quarantine rules.

At the same time, the staff at Innovo Detox is also taking medical and clinical steps to address addiction issues that happen during the pandemic.

“This includes not simply medical care for withdrawal management and medical stabilization to support a comfortable detox process, but also making sure our team is staffed with psychiatrists and licensed mental health professionals that can start the process of clinically working through any anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues a patient may be suffering from, whether before COVID or due to COVID-19,” the center wrote in a recent blog post.

For people preparing for detox, the COVID crisis adds another level of fear and uncertainty to what is already a frightening time.

Fortunately, the team at Innovo recognizes this fact. As they put it: “No one enters alcohol detox or drug detox after living through addiction with a smile and a happy outlook.”

The mission of Innovo Detox

A sister facility of the Maryland Addiction Recovery Center in Towson, Maryland, Innovo Detox opened its doors earlier this year with the goal of providing detox and medical stabilization services, something that was in short supply for the region, according to  Maryland Addiction Recovery Center and Innovo Detox Co-Founder Zach Snitzer.

“Within our area of the DMV and Pennsylvania, many people were needing to drive 3 hours or longer to find a true detox facility, so Innovo Detox will be able to offer the highest quality of medical services and, in doing so, serve an area of the country very much in need,” Snitzer said earlier this year. “This new detox will allow the necessary time for a patient to be detoxed safely and become medically stable before moving on to the next appropriate clinical level of care.”

Innovo Detox treats addiction as a chronic illness, with getting off drugs or alcohol serving as the first step on a long road to recovery.

This state-of-the-art drug and alcohol detox facility offers the latest evidence-based medical, clinical and psychiatric care, provided by a dedicated team of professionals who understand both the nature of addiction and the individual needs of their patient.

These patients are male and female adults 18 years of age and older who suffer from addiction, substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders.

Within the calm, healing environment offered by Innovo, a team that includes medical doctors and nurses, clinical therapists and support staff work round the clock to ensure the patient experience is as comfortable and effective as possible.

These professionals believe that anyone who comes to them has already gone through the pain of addiction, meaning detox should be a place where they are shown compassion, dignity and respect.

The Innovo Detox facility 

Innovo recognizes that patients may experience pain and discomfort during detox, which is why the staff has provided a range of amenities to foster a calming and healing environment during treatment.

This includes amenities not often found at detox facilities, such as:

  • Patient lounges and game rooms
  • 55” flat-screen TVs with cable in every patient room
  • Fireplace
  • Private patio and smoking area
  • High quality bedding
  • Massage therapy
  • Private chef and kitchen staff

The kitchen is very important, as health and nutrition can go a long way towards helping patients through the rougher parts of detox.

Innovo offers high-quality, organic meals proven to aid in recovery and can meet any dietary needs the patients have. Portions are generous, prepared by the in-house chef and kitchen staff.

This is all housed in a center with newly remodeled architecture, situated in a beautiful scenic section of historic Adams County, Pennsylvania.


Innovo counts itself as fortunate to have a medical department led by a 25-year veteran of the behavioral healthcare field.

Dr. Alok Sarahan, M.D. is Innovo’s medical director and staff psychiatrist. Board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry, Dr. Sarahan was trained at Oxford in the UK and completed psychiatric residencies at King George’s Medical College in India and Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Dr. Sarahan has spent his career working in the fields of child and adolescent psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, ECT, and adult psychiatry.

He has served as a lead psychiatrist, medical director and chaired psychiatric departments, while working in inpatient and outpatient facilities as well as extended acute care mental health settings.

Dr. Saharan has also worked in acute detoxes, inpatient substance abuse programs, dual diagnosis, and co-occurring facilities, residential mental health facilities, as well as in a community mental health center and 12 years overseeing a Suboxone medication-assisted treatment program.

Dr. Saharan says his 25-year career has taught him to view the disease of substance use disorder through the unique perspective of every patient: their experiences, their mental framework, their stressors and any co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis.

By understanding addiction through this unique lens, a doctor can better identify precipitating factors, which in turn can help the patient understand the reason for continued substance abuse and gain insights that lead to positive change.

Clinical services and case management

Initial detox and withdrawal can be taxing on the mind, body, and soul. Innovo believes that introducing clinical services once a patient is feeling better physically is the best way to begin recovery and treatment.

Innovo’s clinical services are overseen by the clinical supervisor and carried out by staff counselors and therapists.

The team works with each patient to understand their specific detox protocol and introduce structured group and individual therapy sessions as their physical health improves.

Innovo’s team also recognizes that addiction is a chronic illness requiring long-term care and recovery support.

That’s why each Innovo patient works with a case manager in conjunction with the medical and clinical team and the patient’s family to decide the best options for the patient’s next step in care.

This can include:

  • Referrals to inpatient, residential or extended care treatment, PHP or IOP treatment, recovery or sober houses or outpatient therapists or psychiatrists
  • Connection with recovery organizations in their community such as 12 step meetings or SMART recovery
  • Collaborating with employers, attorneys, colleges and universities, primary care doctors and other personal or professional connections.

What does Innovo treat?

Innovo Detox specializes in treating a number of addictions, including:

Opioid/heroin addiction

Opioids can be prescription painkillers or illegal street drugs such as heroin. They are a powerful and often deadly class of drug, one of the prime causes of fatal overdoses.

Opiate withdrawal can be extremely painful, on both a physical and emotional level, which is why detox from these drugs should take place under the care of medical professionals equipped to address the physical comfort and health issues that can stem from withdrawal.


In recent years, the decriminalization/legalization of marijuana has led people to rethink this drug as something safe, without risk of addiction.

However, a recent study by the National Institute on Drug abuse suggests that nearly a third of marijuana users have some degree of marijuana use disorder.  Four million Americans meet the criteria for this disorder, but less than 10 percent seek treatment.

Increased marijuana use can lead to tolerance, which can cause the brain to become accustomed to and depend on marijuana.

Therefore, users can go through withdrawal during detox. The physical symptoms aren’t the same as opioid or cocaine withdrawal, but there is a physical and psychological impact of marijuana detox.

In many cases, marijuana is abused by people with co-occurring disorders as a form of self-medication or to help mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Use/misuse of marijuana can lead to memory loss, lack of motivation, decreased social skills and difficulty processing information or executive functioning.

Best practices suggest detox and withdrawal be done in a safe and comfortable environment supervised by a medical professional.


Alcohol is legal — for those over 21 — and easily accessible, but dependence on it can become dangerous. It can lead to severe medical issues, including:

  • Ulcers and gastrointestinal problems
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Brain damage
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Malnourishment and vitamin deficiencies

If you feel like you’re suffering from alcoholism, it is extremely dangerous to try to stop drinking without medical attention. Alcohol withdrawal and detox can be uncomfortable — both mentally and physically — and in some cases is fatal.

Benzodiazepine addiction

Commonly referred to as “benzos,” benzodiazepines are a type of drugs typically used to treat anxiety, as well as seizures, convulsions and insomnia. Abuse of this drug can lead to an addiction, which reduces the activity of our brain and spinal nerves by boosting the effects of the neuro-transmitter gamma-aminobutyric.

Addiction to benzodiazepines is of particular concern to people who are predisposed to addiction, suffer from a substance abuse disorder or engage in using these drugs recreationally. In many cases, users mix them with other substances.

Side effects can include confusion, slurred speech, weakness, difficulty breathing, convulsions or seizures, slow heartbeat, severe drowsiness or even coma.

As with other drugs, it is important to detox from benzodiazepine under the watchful eye of a medical professional.


Snorted, smoked and in some cases injected, cocaine is a stimulant that produces energy and euphoria when it reacts with the body’s central nervous system.

Its effects are wide-ranging, from extreme energy, happiness and alertness to hypersensitivity to sight, sound and touch, irritability and paranoia. Physically, it can cause nausea, tremors, restlessness, raised body temperature and blood pressure and a fast/irregular heartbeat.

There is a physical side to cocaine withdrawal, but it is mostly associated with mental anguish, discomfort and irritability. This is why it’s recommended users go through cocaine detox under the supervision of a medical professional or healthcare facility who can monitor their symptoms.

Innovo Detox looks forward to sharing its expertise with the world, through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. If you’d like to learn more, visit them at

About the author


Leave a Comment

Comment Policy