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EMCDDA. EMCDDA trendspotter briefing: Impact of COVID-19 on drug use and drug services in Western Balkans


The Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) registered the main waves of COVID-19 infections later than most of the EU countries, but containment strategies were implemented at the same time and with equal force as in the rest of Europe. This report provides the main results of studies conducted using the trendspotter methodology to explore the impact of the pandemic and associated measures on drug services and people who use drugs in the Western Balkan region.

*Kosovo: this designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

(EMCDDA, Lissabon, March 2021


Impact of Pandemics/Epidemics on Emergency Department Utilization for Mental Health and Substance Use: A Rapid Review. 

Munich J, Dennett L, Swainson J, Greenshaw AJ, Hayward J. 

Front Psychiatry. 2021 Feb 24;12:615000. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.615000. PMID: 33716818; PMCID: PMC7943839.


Notes from the Field: Opioid Overdose Deaths Before, During, and After an 11-Week COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Order - Cook County, Illinois, January 1, 2018-October 6, 2020. 

Mason M, Welch SB, Arunkumar P, Post LA, Feinglass JM.

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021 Mar 12;70(10):362-363. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7010a3. PMID: 33705372.


COVID-19: A catalyst for change in telehealth service delivery for opioid use disorder management. 

Mehtani NJ, Ristau JT, Snyder H, Surlyn C, Eveland J, Smith-Bernardin S, Knight KR. 

Subst Abus. 2021 Mar 8:1-8. doi: 10.1080/08897077.2021.1890676. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33684331.



Another silver lining?: Anthropological perspectives on the promise and practice of relaxed restrictions for telemedicine and medication-assisted treatment in the context of COVID-19. 

Eaves E, Trotter R 2nd, Baldwin J. 

Hum Organ. 2020 Winter;79(4):292-303. doi: 10.17730/1938-3525-79.4.292. Epub 2020 Dec 2. PMID: 33551465; PMCID: PMC7861509.


Patient Satisfaction With Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment via Telemedicine: Brief Literature Review and Development of a New Assessment. 

Cole TO, Robinson D, Kelley-Freeman A, Gandhi D, Greenblatt AD, Weintraub E, Belcher AM. 

Front Public Health. 2021 Jan 21;8:557275. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.557275. PMID: 33553083; PMCID: PMC7859509.


"How will I get my next week's script?" Reactions of Reddit opioid forum users to changes in treatment access in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Krawczyk N, Bunting AM, Frank D, Arshonsky J, Gu Y, Friedman SR, Bragg MA. 

Int J Drug Policy. 2021 Feb 5:103140. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103140. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33558165.



A Telemedicine Buprenorphine Clinic to Serve New York City: Initial Evaluation of the NYC Public Hospital System's Initiative to Expand Treatment Access during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Tofighi B, McNeely J, Walzer D, Fansiwala K, Demner A, Chaudhury CS, Subudhi I, Schatz D, Reed T, Krawczyk N. 

J Addict Med. 2021 Feb 5. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000809. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33560696.



Take home injectable opioids for opioid use disorder during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic is in urgent need: a case study. 

Oviedo-Joekes E, MacDonald S, Boissonneault C, Harper K. 

Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2021 Mar 5;16(1):22. doi: 10.1186/s13011-021-00358-x. PMID: 33673847; PMCID: PMC7935000.


Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare access among patients receiving medication for opioid use disorder. 

Jacka BP, Janssen T, Garner BR, Yermash J, Yap KR, Ball EL, Hartzler B, Becker SJ. 

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2021 Feb 15;221:108617. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.108617. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33647590; PMCID: PMC7883735.


Sharp decline in hospital and emergency department initiated buprenorphine for opioid use disorder during COVID-19 state of emergency in California. 

Herring AA, Kalmin M, Speener M, Goodman-Meza D, Snyder H, Campbell A, Moulin A, Shoptaw S. 

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Apr;123:108260. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108260. Epub 2020 Dec 27. PMID: 33612194; PMCID: PMC7832157.


A chance to do it better: Methadone maintenance treatment in the age of Covid-19. 

Frank D. 

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Apr;123:108246. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108246. Epub 2020 Dec 13. PMID: 33612189; PMCID: PMC7834469.


Webinar. Opioidabhängigkeit aktuell vor dem Hintergrund der COVID19 Pandemie (Aufzeichnung, Video, 60:00)

Referenten: Prof. Jens Reimer, Dr. Thomas Poehlke

Die Veranstaltung ist von der BLÄK mit 1 CME-Punkt anerkannt



EuroNPUD – European Network of People who use Drugs, 2020


The health and social consequences during the initial period of the COVID-19 pandemic among current and former people who inject drugs: A rapid phone survey in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Genberg BL, Astemborski J, Piggott DA, Woodson-Adu T, Kirk GD, Mehta SH. 

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2021 Feb 13;221:108584. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.108584. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33607497; PMCID: PMC7881742.


Leveraging COVID-19 to sustain regulatory flexibility in the treatment of opioid use disorder. 

Stringer KL, Langdon KJ, McKenzie M, Brockmann B, Marotta P. 

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Apr;123:108263. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108263. Epub 2020 Dec 26. PMID: 33612196; PMCID: PMC7900610.



Take-home dosing experiences among persons receiving methadone maintenance treatment during COVID-19. 

Figgatt MC, Salazar Z, Day E, Vincent L, Dasgupta N. 

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Apr;123:108276. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2021.108276. Epub 2021 Jan 8. PMID: 33612201.


Designing and Evaluating COVID-19 Protocols for an Office-Based Opioid Treatment Program in an Urban Underserved Setting. 

O'Gurek DT. 

J Am Board Fam Med. 2021 Feb;34(Suppl):S136-S140. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2021.S1.200207. PMID: 33622828.


Helping People Who Are Homeless Stay Healthy During the Pandemic. 

Rubin R. 

JAMA. 2021 Feb 9;325(6):517-519. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.23436. PMID: 33471026.


COVID-19 Adaptations in the Care of Patients with Opioid Use Disorder: a Survey of California Primary Care Clinics. 

Caton L, Cheng H, Garneau HC, Fisher T, Harris-Mills B, Hurley B, Newman S, McGovern MP. J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Jan 28:1–8. doi: 10.1007/s11606-020-06436-3. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33511572; PMCID: PMC7842998.


Is necessity also the mother of implementation? COVID-19 and the implementation of evidence-based treatments for opioid use disorders. 

Becker SJ, Garner BR, Hartzler BJ. 

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Mar;122:108210. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108210. Epub 2020 Nov 22. PMID: 33509413; PMCID: PMC7834027.


Telehealth sustains patient engagement in OUD treatment during COVID-19. 

Langabeer JR 2nd, Yatsco A, Champagne-Langabeer T. 

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Mar;122:108215. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108215. Epub 2020 Nov 24. PMID: 33248863; PMCID: PMC7685137.


Addressing racial & socioeconomic disparities in access to medications for opioid use disorder amid COVID-19. 

Nguemeni Tiako MJ. 

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Mar;122:108214. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108214. Epub 2020 Nov 24. PMID: 33248862; PMCID: PMC7685132.


Conceptualizing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with opioid use disorder: an application of the social ecological model. 

Cowan E, Khan MR, Shastry S, Edelman EJ. 

Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2021 Jan 7;16(1):4. doi: 10.1186/s13722-020-00210-w. PMID: 33413619; PMCID: PMC7789072.


New Data on Access to Mental Health and Addictions Services and Home and Community Care. 

Cho MZ, Frood J, Husak L, Lacroix J, Hall N, Turcotte LA. 

Healthc Q. 2021 Jan;23(4):9-11. doi: 10.12927/hcq.2020.26400. PMID: 33475485.


Providing addiction services during a pandemic: Lessons learned from COVID-19 

Liese, Bruce S. et al. 

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 120, 108156


A Primary Care Response to COVID-19 for Patients with an Opioid Use Disorder. 

Wilson CG, Ramage M, Fagan EB. 

J Rural Health. 2021 Jan;37(1):169-171. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12438. Epub 2020 Jun 2. PMID: 32277732; PMCID: PMC7262246.


Commentary on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on opioid use disorder treatment among Indigenous communities in the United States and Canada. 

Wendt DC, Marsan S, Parker D, Lizzy KE, Roper J, Mushquash C, Venner KL, Lam A, Swansburg J, Worth N, Sorlagas N, Quach T, Manoukian K, Bernett P, Radin SM. 

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Feb;121:108165. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108165. Epub 2020 Oct 9. PMID: 33097315; PMCID: PMC7546255.


COVID-19 innovations in medication for addiction treatment at a Skid Row syringe exchange. 

Tringale R, Subica AM. 

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Feb;121:108181. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108181. Epub 2020 Oct 21. PMID: 33129635; PMCID: PMC7577224.


Use of Telehealth in Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Services During and After COVID-19. 

Molfenter T, Roget N, Chaple M, Behlman S, Cody O, Hartzler B, Johnson E, Nichols M, Stillen P, Becker S. 

JMIR Ment Health. 2021 Jan 19. doi: 10.2196/25835. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33481760.