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July 1, 2020

Telehealth for Substance-Using Populations in the Age of Coronavirus Disease 2019: Recommendations to Enhance Adoption

Author Affiliations
  • 1Veteran Affairs Center for Clinical Management Research, Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • 2Addiction Center and Mental Health Innovations, Services & Outcomes Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 3Injury Prevention Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
JAMA Psychiatry. Published online July 1, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.1698

US health care systems are rapidly responding to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by mobilizing resources to treat infected patients and prevent further transmission. Concurrently, patients with behavioral health conditions continue to need health care or they risk becoming silent casualties of the pandemic. National data indicate that 7.8% of adults met past-year criteria for a substance use disorder (SUD).1 These patients, including those with co-occurring mental health disorders, are vulnerable to serious consequences, including overdose and suicide, if treatments and psychosocial services are disrupted by COVID-19. With COVID-19, it is imperative to minimize transmission while continuing SUD and mental health care in the context of rapidly evolving health care response and policies. This presents an urgent, unprecedented need for telemedicine and mobile health in SUD care and the need to understand how to implement these services now and continue them long term.

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