At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, Assembly Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee Chair Linda Rosenthal and Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried will take testimony to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals with a substance use disorder, their ability to access effective services and the compounding effects of isolation. The committees will seek ways to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on these populations, in addition to the guidance and easing of regulatory requirements previously provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Office of Addictions Services and Supports (OASAS) and the Department of Health (DOH).
In the interest of public health and safety, the hearing will be conducted virtually using web-based video conferencing.
Experts, treatment providers, individuals and advocacy communities have indicated the COVID-19 pandemic has had an outsized adverse impact on individuals struggling with a substance use disorder. Researchers and health experts have cited many unique challenges that individuals struggling with a substance use disorder have faced during this pandemic, including the threat of relapse due to increased stress and difficulty accessing services to help them maintain their recovery. Additionally, health experts including the director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) have indicated there will likely be an increase in the number of individuals struggling with a substance use disorder as a result of the compounding effects of isolation, stress and unemployment. According to NIDA, some individuals struggling with a substance use disorder may also be at a greater risk of experiencing health complications from COVID-19 due to the effects various substances have on the immune system, as well as one’s respiratory and pulmonary health.