Leveraging digital tools to support recovery from substance use disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic response

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Medical Toxicology

Publication Date


Document Type



Health Communication | Health Services Administration | Infectious Disease | Substance Abuse and Addiction | Telemedicine | Virus Diseases


Treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) during the COVID-19 pandemic poses unique challenges, both due to direct effects from the illness, and indirect effects from the physical measures needed to "flatten the curve." Stress, isolation, lack of structure, limited access to physical and mental health care, and changes in treatment paradigms all increase risk of return to drug use events and pose barriers to recovery for people with SUDs. The pandemic has forced treatment providers and facilities to rapidly adapt to address these threats while redesigning their structure to accommodate physical distancing regulations. Digital health interventions can function without the need for physical proximity. Clinicians can use digital health intervention, such as telehealth, wearables, mobile applications, and other remote monitoring devices, to convert in-person care to remote-based care, and they can leverage these tools to address some of the pandemic-specific challenges to treatment. The current pandemic provides the opportunity to rapidly explore the advantages and limitations of these technologies in the care of individuals with SUD.


COVID-19, Digital health, Substance use disorder, Telehealth, Wearable, mHealth

DOI of Published Version



McDonnell A, MacNeill C, Chapman B, Gilbertson N, Reinhardt M, Carreiro S. Leveraging digital tools to support recovery from substance use disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic response. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2020 Dec 3:108226. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108226. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33303253. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of substance abuse treatment

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID