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ASAM Updates COVID-19 Guidelines for Practitioners

September 22, 2020

As many states and municipalities begin to loosen social distancing directives and other COVID-19-related restrictions, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) announced that its Caring for Patients During COVID-19 Task Force has updated its guidance and resources for practitioners.

Shortly after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March, ASAM convened a panel of industry experts to provide guidance to ASAM members on how to handle the impact of COVID-19 on their practice and in treating patients with addiction. On Sept. 18, the group published revised guidance on a variety of COVID-related topics. ASAM now offers guidance documents on the following:

  • Ongoing management of the continuum of addiction care
  • Access to buprenorphine in office-based settings
  • Access to care in opioid treatment programs
  • Addiction treatment in acute hospital settings
  • Adjusting drug testing protocols
  • Clinician wellbeing
  • Infection mitigation in outpatient settings and residential treatment facilities
  • Managing justice-involved persons with addiction
  • Medication dosage or formulation
  • National and state-by-stance guideline documents
  • Supporting access to alcohol use disorder and withdrawal treatment
  • Support group participation
  • Treating unhoused individuals with addiction
  • Telehealth access for addiction treatment
  • Treating pregnant individuals with opioid use disorder

The addition of guidance regarding ongoing management of patients with addiction during COVID, along with recommendations on ensuring maintenance of patient access (such as not requiring negative COVID tests prior to admission) and reducing COVID transmission with interventions such as face coverings were among the key updates in the revised documents, an ASAM spokesperson wrote in an email to Addiction Professional.

“The drug testing guidance has also been updated to reflect considerations for resuming drug testing, and the medication formulation and dosage guidance includes more detail on how to think about different patient visit types, medications for addiction treatment, and formulations as states and regions relax restrictions,” the ASAM spokesperson told AP. “There also is changed language acknowledging that the need for addiction treatment is increasing in response to increases in substance use during the pandemic.”

ASAM notes on its site that its guidance documents “are provided for educational and informational purposes only” and are “not intended to provide legal or medical advice and should not be relied upon as such.”

Editor's note: This story was updated shortly after publishing on Sept. 22 to include comments from ASAM.

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