American Society of Addiciton Medicine



A guide for addiction treatment clinicians and programs working to treat patients with substance use disorders safely and effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic1.

For additional recommendations for the Ongoing Management of the Continuum of Addiction Care during COVID-19,  please click here.

Purpose of the document 

While drug testing is generally an important part of substance use disorder management, during a public health emergency, access to life-sustaining addiction treatment should not be conditional on drug testing. This section provides guidance to addiction treatment clinicians and programs regarding adjusting drug testing protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to balance the utility of obtaining data from a drug test against the risk of COVID-19 virus exposure to patients, laboratory staff, and other healthcare staff.

Updated: 9/18/20

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Adjusting Drug Testing Protocols

Considerations for pausing urine drug testing in clinical practice
Considerations for Conducting Limited Drug Testing
Unexpected Drug Test Results in Patients Treated with Opioid Agonist Medications
Explore options for drug testing at a distance
General Resources

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1To ensure the timely dissemination of this document, this resource was developed using expert consensus and was not vetted using the usual standards set by the ASAM Quality Improvement Council.


This Clinical Guidance (“Guidance”) is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is intended to provide practical clinical guidance to ad- diction medicine physicians and others caring for individuals with substance use disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic as it unfolds. Adherence to any recommendations included in this Guidance will not ensure successful treatment in every situation. Furthermore, the recommendations contained in this Guidance should not be interpreted as setting a standard of care or be deemed inclusive of all proper methods of care nor exclusive of other methods of care reasonably directed to obtaining the same results.

The ultimate judgment regarding the propriety of any specific therapy must be made by the physician and the patient in light of all the circumstances pre- sented by the individual patient, and the known variability and biological behavior of the medical condition.

This Guidance and its conclusions and recommendations reflect the best available information at the time the Guidance was prepared. The results of future studies may require revisions to the recommendations in this Guidance to reflect new data. ASAM does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the Guidance and assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to any use of this Guidance or for any errors or omissions.


If you are a patient or family member or friend in need of immediate assistance:

  • Disaster Distress Helpline
    Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    Call 800-273-8255 or  Chat with Lifeline

About COVID-19 Taskforce Members

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If you have questions related to the guidance in this document or suggestions for additional topics, please email

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