The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the toll of the opioid epidemic. Across the United States, overdose-related mortality increased by nearly 20% by mid-2020, with synthetic opioids as the primary driver of the increase.
The purpose of this guidance is to help clinicians to recognize the impact of COVID-19 on people who use opioids and to think creatively to help ensure access to treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) throughout the pandemic. Telehealth, extended prescriptions or take-home medications, and reduced drug testing frequency are 3 approaches that can be implemented to meet the needs of people with OUD during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, access to naloxone and sterile syringes should be preserved and promoted throughout the course of OUD treatment.