UNODC: Treatment, Care and Recovery Suggestions for People with Drug Use Disorder during COVID-19

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released treatment, care and recovery suggestions for people with a drug use disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemics and health emergencies cost lives and pose risks to health and well-being of people, security, stability as well as the economy. It is important to ensure access to health care during a pandemic, including services for people who use drugs and treatment of people with a drug use disorder. This helps to protect health and well-being as well as security and stability of those who suffer from these disorders.

People with drug use disorders maybe particularly at risk of developing COVID-19 due to several reasons. These include:

  • Comorbid somatic conditions such as HIV/AIDS,hepatitis B and/or C and tuberculosis, lung or cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer andinjuries and traumas among others;
  • Compromised immune system; and
  • Stigma and discrimination linked with these disorders result in limited access to basicresources such as housing, employment, health care and social support.

UNODC advises member states to continue access to health and social support for people with substance use disorder due to these reasons and their heightened risk. It advises to provide the continuum of care required as described in the International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders (UNODC/WHO, 2020) to the best extent possible also in this time of crisis. This includes low-threshold services as well as psychosocial treatment and pharmacological treatment in a range of settings.

UNODC asks that governments continue these services bearing in mind the following issues:

  • Address continued access to the services,
  • Address the safety of the staff and the patients at the services,
  • Make sure the premises of the services are clean and hygienic,
  • Provide people with information on and means to protect themselves at every possible occasion,
  • Continuity of low-threshold services,
  • Continuity of pharmacological therapy,
  • Continuity of psycho-social therapies,
  • Support homeless people, including people with drug use disorders, and
  • Under no condition should a person be denied access to health care based on the fact that they use drugs.

Access the full set of recommendations here.

Find more resources:

Virtual Tools, Real Help: Staying Sober During Pandemic


Source Website: UNODC (pdf)