The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating ongoing public health emergencies, including the addiction crisis in the United States. During these challenging times, the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic remains wholly committed to supporting the health and well-being of individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs), including opioid use disorder, and chronic pain. These individuals are among the most at risk and susceptible to COVID-19, and their care and treatment are among the most disrupted by physical distancing and other measures that have been put into place to prevent the spread of the virus. It is critical that steps be taken to ensure that their health, safety, and care are preserved for the near and longer-term.
Members of the NAM’s Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic’s Steering Committee have identified a series of priorities and strategies for providers, health systems, researchers, policymakers, regulators, and health leaders alike to preserve the health and well-being of individuals with SUDs and chronic pain during the COVID-19 pandemic.
6 Key Priorities and Strategies
- Plan for deliberate evaluations of implementation and response strategies and policies enacted during COVID-19
- Utilize telehealth to support the needs of patient populations with SUD or chronic pain during COVID-19 and beyond
- Reinforce safety net programs that help protect certain high-risk populations
- Maintain high-quality care for individuals with pain
- Address immediate research, data, and surveillance needs and enhance reporting
- Monitor and take steps to prevent a rise in SUD and overdoses