Providing addiction services during a pandemic: Lessons learned from COVID-19


During the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing measures have made in-person mutual help groups inaccessible to many individuals struggling with substance use disorders (SUDs). Prior to the pandemic, stakeholders in our community had sponsored a program to train volunteers to facilitate local Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery) groups. As a result, the community established seven weekly SMART Recovery groups, which more than 200 community members attended. In March 2020, the community discontinued these groups due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To provide SMART Recovery during social distancing, we developed a one-on-one phone-in service for people with SUDs and addictions: the SMART Recovery Line (SMARTline). In this paper, we share our experience training volunteers to facilitate SMART Recovery groups and SMARTline. As a result of our experience, we have learned to: (1) establish plans in advance to migrate services from face-to-face settings to remote platforms; (2) consider remote platforms that are easily accessible to the greatest number of individuals; (3) include as many stakeholders in the planning process as possible; (4) consider recruiting volunteers to help in the provision of services, especially since many people want to help fellow community members during crises; and (5) anticipate and prepare for crises well before they occur.

Providing addiction services during a pandemic: Lessons learned from COVID-19 Liese, Bruce S. et al. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 120, 108156
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United States
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