Rapid assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on people who use illicit drugs: an extension of the in-depth interviews to understand the impact of telemedicine rapid response.
As part of Government of Canada’s funding opportunity on COVID-19 Rapid Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, the Canadian Resaerch Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM) undertook a series of activities in order to help inform future research and guidance for healthcare professionals, service providers, and policymakers.
Among the rapid guidance documents produced by CRISM, telemedicine was identified as a key element to reduce risk of withdrawal and other harms caused by drug shortage with confinement, increase access to healthcare, and avoid treatment disruption for people who use drugs. However, many people who use drugs do not have easy access to a phone or internet to benefit from these adapted services. To reduce barriers to services in times of confinement and distancing, a rapid response using telemedicine was elaborated and implemented by the CHUM addiction medicine service in close partnership with a community-based organization (CACTUS Montreal).
Understanding the impact of the pandemic on people who use drugs who have benefited from an adapted telemedicine program in collaboration with community-based organisations and finding out how telemedicine has influenced their experience of the pandemic and/or their use of substances, through: