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The Evolution of Telepsychiatry for Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19: a Narrative Review.

Fast N, van Kessel R, Humphreys K, Ward NF, Roman-Urrestarazu A. The Evolution of Telepsychiatry for Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19: a Narrative Review. Current addiction reports. 2023 Apr 25; 10(2):187-197.

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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This article aims to review and synthesize the current research evidence regarding the efficacy of telepsychiatry-delivered substance use disorder treatment using a narrative review with a focus on the effects of remote healthcare delivery within the substance abuse treatment space. RECENT FINDINGS: The COVID-19 pandemic exerted substantial pressures on all levels of society. Social isolation, loss of employment, stress, physical illness, overburdened health services, unmet medical needs, and rapidly changing pandemic restrictions had particularly severe consequences for people with mental health issues and substance use disorders. Since the start of the pandemic, addiction treatment (and medical treatment overall) using remote health platforms has significantly expanded to different platforms and delivery systems. The USA, in particular, reported transformational policy developments to enable the delivery of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, systemic barriers such as a widespread lack of internet access and insufficient patient and provider digital skills remain. SUMMARY: Overall, telepsychiatry is a promising approach for the treatment of substance use disorders, but more randomized controlled trials are needed in the future to assess the evidence base of available interventions.

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