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Substance use policy and practice in the COVID-19 pandemic: Learning from early pandemic responses through internationally comparative field data

Aronowitz, SV; Carroll, JJ; Hansen, H; Jauffret-Roustide, M; Parker, CM; Suhail-Sindhu, S; Albizu-Garcia, C; ... Thi Hai Oanh, K; + view all (2022) Substance use policy and practice in the COVID-19 pandemic: Learning from early pandemic responses through internationally comparative field data. Global Public Health , 17 (12) pp. 3654-3669. 10.1080/17441692.2022.2129720. Green open access

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented natural experiment in drug policy, treatment delivery, and harm reduction strategies by exposing wide variation in public health infrastructures and social safety nets around the world. Using qualitative data including ethnographic methods, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews with people who use drugs (PWUD) and Delphi-method with experts from field sites spanning 13 different countries, this paper compares national responses to substance use during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Field data was collected by the Substance Use x COVID-19 (SU x COVID) Data Collaborative, an international network of social scientists, public health scientists, and community health practitioners convened to identify and contextualise health service delivery models and social protections that influence the health and wellbeing of PWUD during COVID-19. Findings suggest that countries with stronger social welfare systems pre-COVID introduced durable interventions targeting structural drivers of health. Countries with fragmented social service infrastructures implemented temporary initiatives for PWUD led by non-governmental organisations. The paper summarises the most successful early pandemic responses seen across countries and ends by calling for greater systemic investments in social protections for PWUD, diversion away from criminal-legal systems toward health interventions, and integrated harm reduction, treatment and recovery supports for PWUD.

Type: Article
Title: Substance use policy and practice in the COVID-19 pandemic: Learning from early pandemic responses through internationally comparative field data
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2022.2129720
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2022.2129720
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: COVID-19, Harm reduction, drug policy, overdose, substance use, Humans, Drug Users, Pandemics, COVID-19, Substance-Related Disorders, Public Policy, Harm Reduction
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10181918
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