Supporting Individuals with Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has forever changed the American landscape. From the economy to the health care system to family/community dynamics, we wonder when “normal” will return and what that will look like. We also see that the COVID-19 crisis has only further spotlighted the health disparities and challenges facing our most at-risk individuals and families. Amid trying to socially distance and stay safe, we cannot forget those who are facing this pandemic while also facing chronic diseases – including substance use disorders.

Given the impact of COVID-19 on the respiratory system, individuals who smoke or vape can be at greater risk of developing complications. While those with an opioid use or methamphetamine use disorder are also at risk of pulmonary or respiratory issues due to the impact of these drugs on the body. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has documented these and other potential COVID-19 implications for people with substance use disorders.

Community leaders and health professionals can find resources to support these vulnerable populations. The National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic has compiled information for patients and their clinicians during times of emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Their recent webinar series Supporting People with Addiction During COVID-19 focused on how to support and protect these groups given how “distancing protocols have separated patients from their clinicians, made medications to treat addiction much more challenging to obtain, and shuttered many long-term recovery groups.”

Another recent virtual education event, the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, brought together leaders across government and the private sector to discuss a variety of issues related to prescription drug and heroin abuse – including discussions of the impact of COVID-19 and available guidance. Recognizing the importance of virtual recovery resources, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has compiled resources to help local recovery programs create virtual meetings as well as national organizations that offer virtual treatment.

For the past few years, CSIP has collaborated with the Partnership for Drug Free Kids to support families in crisis or at risk of crisis due to substance use disorders. Parents and caregivers can find online communities and text messaging programs to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic. CSIP will continue to share news and resources on the opioid epidemic, especially during this public health emergency.

About the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by the White House, represents the technology sector and commerce intermediaries including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oath, UPS, PayPal, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and .Health. CSIP’s mission is to promote industry best practices as it relates to illegal online pharmacies, and educating consumers about safe purchasing of prescription drugs.