Substance Use Disorders and Telehealth in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era: A New Outlook

Tyler S. Oesterle*, Bhanuprakash Kolla, Cameron J. Risma, Scott A. Breitinger, Daniela B. Rakocevic, Larissa L. Loukianova, Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, Melanie T. Gentry, Teresa A. Rummans, Mohit Chauhan, Mark S. Gold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


During the current coronavirus disease 2019 epidemic, many outpatient chemical dependency treatment programs and clinics are decreasing their number of in-person patient contacts. This has widened an already large gap between patients with substance use disorders (SUDs) who need treatment and those who have actually received treatment. For a disorder where group therapy has been the mainstay treatment option for decades, social distancing, shelter in place, and treatment discontinuation have created an urgent need for alternative approaches to addiction treatment. In an attempt to continue some care for patients in need, many medical institutions have transitioned to a virtual environment to promote safe social distancing. Although there is ample evidence to support telemedical interventions, these can be difficult to implement, especially in the SUD population. This article reviews current literature for the use of telehealth interventions in the treatment of SUDs and offers recommendations on safe and effective implementation strategies based on the current literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2709-2718
Number of pages10
JournalMayo Clinic Proceedings
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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