COVID-19 PANDEMIC IMPACT ON HARM REDUCTION SERVICES

From National Council for Behavioral Health: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly worsened the overdose crisis in the U.S. and magnified disparities in access to health care, social services and other basic needs experienced by people who use drugs (PWUD) and people with substance use disorders (PWSUD). Overdose rates are rising steadily, with death rates estimated to be 22.8% higher in July 2020 compared to July 2019. For decades, harm reduction organizations have provided essential, nonjudgmental services that promote safer drug use, prevent overdose death, link people to treatment and recovery supports and support holistic health.

To better understand the impact of the pandemic on harm reduction organizations and PWUD, the National Council for Behavioral Health, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), conducted an environmental scan consisting of a literature review and 21 key informant interviews with staff from harm reduction organizations in the U.S. Information collected through the literature and from key informants demonstrate that the pandemic has resulted in: 1) increased health and social harms to PWUD, 2) significant disruptions to harm reduction services and operations and 3) Innovative adaptations by harm reduction organizations to continue to serve the needs of participants.

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