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Substance Use Disorders and COVID-19: Multi-Faceted Problems Which Require Multi-Pronged Solutions.

  • Jemberie, Wossenseged Birhane1, 2, 3
  • Stewart Williams, Jennifer4, 5
  • Eriksson, Malin1
  • Grönlund, Ann-Sofie1
  • Ng, Nawi4, 6
  • Blom Nilsson, Marcus1
  • Padyab, Mojgan1, 2
  • Priest, Kelsey Caroline7
  • Sandlund, Mikael8
  • Snellman, Fredrik1
  • McCarty, Dennis9
  • Lundgren, Lena M1, 10
  • 1 Department of Social Work, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 2 Centre for Demography and Ageing Research (CEDAR), Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 3 The Swedish National Graduate School for Competitive Science on Ageing and Health (SWEAH), Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 4 Department of Epidemiology and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 5 Research Centre for Generational Health and Ageing, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 6 School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 7 MD/PhD Program, School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, United States. , (United States)
  • 8 Psychiatry Unit, Department of Clinical Science, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 9 Oregon Health & Science University- Portland State University, School of Public Health, Portland, OR, United States. , (United States)
  • 10 Cross-National Behavioral Health Laboratory, Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver, Denver, CO, United States. , (United States)
Published Article
Frontiers in Psychiatry
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00714
PMID: 32848907


COVID-19 shocked health and economic systems leaving millions of people without employment and safety nets. The pandemic disproportionately affects people with substance use disorders (SUDs) due to the collision between SUDs and COVID-19. Comorbidities and risk environments for SUDs are likely risk factors for COVID-19. The pandemic, in turn, diminishes resources that people with SUD need for their recovery and well-being. This article presents an interdisciplinary and international perspective on how COVID-19 and the related systemic shock impact on individuals with SUDs directly and indirectly. We highlight a need to understand SUDs as biopsychosocial disorders and use evidence-based policies to destigmatize SUDs. We recommend a suite of multi-sectorial actions and strategies to strengthen, modernize and complement addiction care systems which will become resilient and responsive to future systemic shocks similar to the COVID-19 pandemic. Copyright © 2020 Jemberie, Stewart Williams, Eriksson, Grönlund, Ng, Blom Nilsson, Padyab, Priest, Sandlund, Snellman, McCarty and Lundgren.

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