PROMOTING SUPPORT GROUP ATTENDANCE
Purpose of the document
Provide guidance to addiction treatment clinicians and programs to support access and participation in support groups and recovery activities while mitigating risk of COVID-19 transmission.
According to the CDC, “the virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community”. Since the virus can be spread before a person develops symptoms and by individuals who contract the virus but never develop symptoms, widespread physical distancing and use of cloth face coverings when around others are indicated to prevent the spread of this illness . Current federal guidance recommends physical distancing and universal use of face coverings and stratifies risk at events and gatherings as follows:
Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings where individuals remain physically distant while connecting virtually.
Moderate risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which fewer than ten individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear cloth face coverings, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings between ten and fifty individuals that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.
Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings of over fifty individuals where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.
Online Support Groups
Protecting Online Support Groups
Etiquette for online-support groups
Considerations for Small Group Meetings with Proper Physical Distancing
- https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/communicable-diseases/disease-control/novel-coronavirus events.aspx
Updated definition of "close contact" by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/contact-tracing/contact-tracing-plan/appendix.html#contact
1This resource was developed by a Task Force appointed by ASAM’s Executive Council. To enable more rapid development and dissemination it was not developed through ASAM’s normal process for clinical guidance development that is overseen 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
If you have questions related to the guidance in this document or suggestions for additional topics, please email COVID@asam.org