For many people who use drugs, the coronavirus pandemic has greatly limited their access to harm reduction services, including syringe services programs, medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder and the overdose-reversing medication Narcan (naloxone).
But as New Jersey’s WBGO radio reports, the delivery of such services and medications is shifting in various ways to help mitigate the impact of coronavirus-related lockdowns and social distancing guidelines on this vulnerable population.
The Harm Reduction Coalition is doing its part by providing Narcan through the mail. This helps get it into the hands of friends and family of people who use drugs, enabling them to reverse an overdose and thus helping take the pressure off EMTs and other health care workers who are busy responding to COVID-19, the disease that the new coronavirus causes.
To request a Narcan prescription, call 877-4NARCAN (877-462-7226).
Although syringe exchange programs may be closed or have reduced hours, people in New Jersey in particular can still obtain up to 10 new syringes at pharmacies. State policies vary.
Additionally, in March, federal health officials relaxed regulations for prescribing MAT, allowing clinicians to prescribe buprenorphine and suboxone, which is a combination of buprenorphine and Narcan, after a phone or telemedicine consultation. They can prescribe up to 28 days of the medication.
To read the WBGO article, click here.