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Adapting Harm Reduction Services During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the overdose crisis in the United States and magnified disparities in access to health care, social services, and other basic needs experienced by people who use drugs and people with substance use challenges. Despite these barriers, harm reduction organizations have implemented a range of adaptations and innovations to continue supporting their participants while adhering to COVID-19 safety guidance for staff.

To better understand the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on harm reduction, the National Council for Behavioral Health, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announces the “COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Harm Reduction Services: An Environmental Scan,” a new report comprising a literature review and 21 key informant interviews with staff from harm reduction organizations across the United States.

Developed by a team of multidisciplinary experts, key findings illustrate that the pandemic has resulted in the following:

  • increased health and social harms to people who use drugs;
  • significant disruptions to harm reduction services and operations; and
  • innovative adaptations by harm reduction organizations to continue to serve the needs of participants.

Source: National Council for Behavioral Health