Coronavirus, or COVID-19, and mandatory social distancing have caused stressful changes to everyday life. People who use drugs can take precautions to reduce their risk and protect themselves during these uncertain times.
Stock up on supplies and naloxone (if possible)
If possible, visit your local harm reduction agency and ask for 2-4 weeks worth of safe drug use supplies and naloxone at a time. By making fewer visits you will reduce your risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus. Contact a local harm reduction organization below for information on their updated services. Mail-based naloxone (Narcan) is also available for those with limited accessibility.
Philadelphia-based harm reduction programs:
- Prevention Point Philadelphia
- Project Safe
- Operation In My Back Yard
- Angels in Motion
- SOL Collective
- Philadelphia Drug Users’ Union
In addition to safe drug supplies and naloxone, make sure you have gloves, disposable face shields, and hand sanitizer available.
Plan and prepare for overdose
Coronavirus can compromise the respiratory system and increase overdose risk among people who use opioids. Emergency services may be stretched and slower to respond to 911 calls.
As always, it is better not to use drugs alone. However, to prevent the spread of coronavirus while using with others, try to keep six feet of physical distance away from each other. If you do use alone, let someone you trust know where you are and ask them to text, call or check-in 3-5 minutes after use to make sure you are okay. You may also call Never Use Alone at 1-(800) 484-3731. An operator will stay on the line with you while you use.
Wipe down all equipment before and after prep and use
Clean your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol). Before you prep, use a household cleaning product to disinfect the surface you are using to prep. Use a wipe or alcohol-based cleaner to wipe down packaging and supplies.
Avoid sharing gear
Avoid sharing substances or supplies of any kind (cigarettes, blunts, pipes, stems, straws, syringes, cookers etc.) to reduce your risk. If you must share substances or supplies, the resources below provide other tips on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
For additional tips and information on safer substance use during COVID-19:
- Project Safe COVID-19 Resources for Drug Use & Sex Work
- Vital Strategies Resources for drug use and COVID-19 risk reduction
Recovery resources and online meetings
- Unity Recovery + WEconnect + Alano Club are now offering free virtual recovery meetings
- MARA (Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous) virtual meetings
- AA Virtual Meetings
- NA Virtual Meetings
- Recovery Dharma Online: Recovering from Addiction with Buddhist Practice
- Smart Recovery Online Meetings
- 24-Hour Suicide Crisis & Intervention: 1-800-273-8255 or text “HOME” to 741741
- Visit HealthyMindsPhilly for more mental health support services
People who are surviving violence in their relationships and families may be experiencing increased isolation and danger caused by social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic. Call one of these local hotlines for support:
- Women Organized Against Rape: (215) 985-3333 – 24-hour hotline for crisis counseling related to sexual assault and intimate partner violence
- Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline: (866) 723-3014