COVID-19: Supporting Substance Use Disorder Patients in Recovery

March 1, 2020

Camille Cioffi and Andra Wilkinson

University of Oregon | Child Trends

Reduce Social Isolation.

Social Isolation Exacerbates the Severity of  Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders. [i]

  • There are compilations of on-line recovery services from SAMHSA, ensuring their wide distribution will prevent providers using limited resources to adapt individually.
  • Individuals in recovery are more vulnerable to experiencing heightened anxiety and those with mental health issues may be more prone to self- medicate. [ii]
  • Providing coordinated behavioral health services is critical. For example, such services can prevent further overwhelming emergency medical services dealing with overdoses.

Improve Access to Safe Treatment.

Treatment Centers Currently Lack the Infrastructure to Provide Care.

  • Guidance for urine drug testing would help treatment centers [iii] adapt to providing tele-medicine and two to four-week prescriptions.
  • Treatment provision should maximize compliance with CDC recommendations by sending medications via the mail, delivering them in-person, or providing them by appointment.
  • Residential treatment centers and inpatient mental health facilities are providing essential care [iv] to vulnerable patients and should also receive access to COVID-19 tests.


[i] Giordano AL, Clarke PB, Furter RT. Predicting Substance Abuse Relapse: The Role of Social Interest and Social Bonding. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling. 2014;35(2):114-127. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1874.2014.00030.x.




[ii] Quello SB, Brady KT, Sonne SC. Mood disorders and substance use disorder: a complex comorbidity. Sci Practice. Perspective. 2005;3(1):13–21. doi:10.1151/spp053113