The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected treatment services for people with substance use disorders (SUDs). Based on the perspectives of service providers from eight countries, we discuss the impact of the pandemic on SUD treatment services. Although many countries quickly adapted in provision of harm reduction services by changes in policy and service delivery, some went into a forced abstinence-based strategy. Similarly, disruption of abstinence-based approaches such as therapeutic communities has been reported. Global awareness is crucial for responsible management of SUDs during the pandemic, and the development of international health policy guidelines is an urgent need in this area.


This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0) which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Narasimha, V., Butner, J., Hanafi, E., Farokhnia, M., Bhad, R., Chalabianloo, F., Kouimtsidis, C., Baldacchino, A. & Arunogiri, S. 2022, 'Harm reduction and abstinence-based models for treatment of substance use disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic: a global perspective', BJPsych International. https://doi.org/10.1192/bji.2022.1

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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