Opioid treatment services are still open in lockdown. If you've been using these services or thinking about going to see one - you still can (they are doing home delivery as well). Online support groups are up and running too.

Dr Emma Schwarcz is an addiction specialist psychiatrist and the Clinical Director of Community Alcohol and Drug Service (CADS) Auckland, among other things. She says it’s crucial that we are doing acts of kindness for ourselves and others.

For some people, lockdown can be a perfect storm of stress, availability and cues. That can lead to the ‘overdoing’ and ‘underdoing’ of potentially unhelpful behaviours, says Dr Schwarcz.

“An active, compassionate and loving approach, including reaching out to others, can really nip things in the bud before they go too far.”

She says so far people they have spoken to are coping well with the change. But CADS are ready with extra support, for anyone who needs it.

“We may need to support clients in tricky situations more as time goes on – for example, delivering nappies, formula, or food to our pregnancy and parental service clients.”

Auckland CADS also have a virtual detox and withdrawal service, so people who need it can withdraw at home. Over 100 people successfully used that support during previous lockdowns. For those who need extra support, the withdrawal centre where people stay while withdrawing is also still operating.

Check out the CADS website for more information. 


Auckland Opioid Treatment Service offers this advice, which is available on their website: 

You can still attend your community pharmacy. We recommend you ask next time you are there if they have plans to reduce their hours and/ or days; if they do please discuss these changes with your key worker.

All community pharmacies will be following Ministry of Health guidelines such as pharmacists and staff distancing themselves from clients and interacting with people for less than 15 minutes.

Please make sure AOTS has your current contact details.

During Level 4 lockdown:

  • If you are feeling unwell please get a test
  • If you are self-isolating you may be able to drive (or be driven) to the community pharmacy and receive your dose in the car. Pharmacy staff may use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and face masks. Or you may need to get someone to collect and administer your dose/s. Arrange this with your key worker. This person needs to be aware of the importance of secure storage of OST medication and of the risk to children and others especially those who are opiate naïve For more information see OST and You p.21
  • If you are unable to leave your home doses will be delivered to you. If delivery is by AOTS staff there will be 2 people who will keep a distance of at least 2m and will be with you for less than 15 minutes. They will not enter your home
  • Clients receiving takeaways may be advised to have some naloxone on hand. Please contact us for a prescription and emergency pack if needed
  • Any increase in takeaways increases the need for safety (storage, safe from children and people who are opiate naïve). And please note: any increase to the number of takeaways is temporary and will, once we are past this crisis, be returned to your current regimen.


Reducing the harms of drug use during this time:

  • Please bear in mind that this is a particularly risky time to take drugs especially if you share equipment and substances. Please make sure you practice all the harm reduction tips associated with whatever drug/s you use. 
  • Don’t share e-cigs, cigarettes, pipes, bongs, joints or nasal tubes. And never share injecting equipment.
  • Prepare your drugs yourself and keep all surfaces clean. Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser before handling any drugs (breaking pills, sharing out buds etc.), any bags, and avoid using from shared bags. Ensure all equipment is clean and sterile before using it.
  • And try cutting down on or avoiding tobacco so your lungs can be more prepared to fight any illness.
  • We don’t know yet if COVID-19 can be passed on through sexual fluids but using barrier protection to reduce that risk is a good idea.

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