Waiting lists for new patients to enter Canberra rehabilitation services have become longer due to the coronavirus, according to providers.
Several ACT facilities for drug and alcohol addiction say wait lists, which were already several months long in some instances, have lengthened due to a reduction in bed space in order to meet social distancing requirements brought on by the pandemic.
Karralika Programs chief executive Sharon Tuffin said while rehab services had been performing well over the past few months, the coronavirus had made it more difficult for new patients to get access to the services.
"At our two residential sites, we have 44 government-funded beds, and we needed to reduce that by 50 per cent to make sure that physical distancing requirements were met," Ms Tuffin said.
"There is more demand than capacity, and if you take into account coronavirus and the reduction in bed numbers, it does have an impact on how long people have to wait for spaces."
In many instances, therapy session at Karralika and other rehab services across Canberra have moved online.
The Salvation Army's Canberra Recovery Services manager, Daniel Ross, said services such as shared rooms had to stop as a result of COVID-19.
"Across NSW and the ACT we're in the middle of a fairly comprehensive review into the way we deliver our services, and we're looking at how people can be better supported," he said.
"For things like 12-step group supports and different social networks that people find support and a safe haven, people haven't been able to build that due to the way society has shut down for a period of time.
"The post-treatment support is one we've had to think outside of the box."
Mr Ross said the capacity of the ACT's rehab system across the network had been stretched.
"It does feel like there are more people waiting to come into a less amount of beds," he said.
"It's a bit frustrating when there are people that are ready to engage in services and people are ready to make a dramatic change."
The Ted Noffs Foundation's ACT regional manager, Lachlan Dean, said many of its rehab programs had moved online, along with one-on-one support for young people.
While some group sessions were still going ahead while social distancing was in effect, Mr Dean said the increase in waiting lists was impacting young people who were seeking support.
"With adult rehab we have about 30 people waiting on the books, but if we have 30 young people on the books, they would lose interest in wanting to get help and wouldn't come in and we want to strike while the iron is hot," Mr Dean said.
"If a 14-year-old walks through and wants to get help, already that is a massive success."
As rehab services continue to report long waiting times and the long-term effects of COVID-19 on mental health become clearer, Mr Ross said it was likely more people would come forward seeking treatment.
"There can be a bit of a delay before we see an increase in significant demand," he said.
"It can take time for people to realise that people are dealing with stresses incorrectly and that it might be problematic to abuse substances."