People Who Use Drugs or Have Substance Use Disorder | COVID-19

Disruption in treatment for patients who use drugs or with substance use disorder can be very stressful. These disruptions can include loss of in-person treatment options for substance use disorder (e.g., clinic appointments for getting medication for opioid use disorder and access to other support services), which can lead to increased use or return to drug use for people not currently using.

Consider offering virtual face-to-face interaction via technologies to provide more personalized support. Disruptions can also occur in patients who use syringe services programs, which may limit access to clean syringes, safe disposal of used syringes, testing for infectious diseases, access to naloxone, and referral to care for treatment of substance use disorder and infectious diseases.

Patients may also experience a disruption in access to their typical illicit drug supply which can lead to withdrawal and emotional distress. If they get contaminated drug products, they may be at increased risk of overdose or other adverse reactions.

If patients present with acute withdrawal, overdose, or other adverse reactions from drug use, take time to have a nonjudgmental conversation with them about their use, work with them to find alternative treatment strategies, and offer harm reduction strategies that align with their current needs. For example, your patient may not be ready to stop their drug use but may benefit from information about syringe service programs and prescription for naloxone.

If you have not done so already, healthcare providers with an active Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) license are eligible to complete an approved trainingexternal icon and submit an application to SAMHSA for outpatient prescribing of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

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