Stopping the Spread: Managing Substance Use Disorders Amid SARS-CoV-2

published on April 24, 2020 by Rupinder Brar and Guy Felicella in BC Medical Journal

Those of us in the health care profession are collectively following the news on the latest SARS-CoV-2 updates, bracing for the potential wave of infections that may fill our hospitals and clinics. We’ve seen personally or heard anecdotally the terrifying impact this virus has on people. For many of us, our professional roles in the pandemic response have been to treat those individuals exhibiting or suffering from symptoms of this novel virus. This can be a helpless feeling, to be so response-oriented considering the ongoing uncertainty about the trajectory and overall impact on our communities.

Many people with untreated or undertreated substance use disorder are currently facing dual public health emergencies—the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the overdose crisis. They are among the most vulnerable in our communities because of medical comorbidities putting them at higher risk of complications from this virus and potential overdose death from a contaminated street drug supply. Additionally, many face social and structural challenges like precarious housing, homelessness, and food insecurity that compound these vulnerabilities…

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