COVID-19 and Mental Health (CMH) Initiative: Research

Rapid Review of the Impacts of “Big Events” On People Who Use Drugs and Delivery of Harm Reduction and Drug Treatment Services: Implications for Strengthening Systems in Response to COVID-19

Key Messages

  • Several key indicators were identified for monitoring as the pandemic progresses and evolves, including drug overdose mortality, hepatitis C notifications, and fentanyl availability
  • Flexibility in service provision is critical during and after Big Events. For treatment services, maintaining communication is also important
  • Service providers should be aware of potential trauma as a result of Big Events; in the COVID-19 context, this may include mental health problems and grief
  • Services should maintain up-to-date emergency preparedness plans that refer to a range of potential emergencies
  • There is almost a complete lack of literature to inform responses to particular populations of people who use drugs, including women, Indigenous Peoples, and visible minorities. This should be a research priority.


  • People who use drugs
  • People who inject drugs
  • Harm reduction
  • Opioid agonist treatment
  • COVID-19
  • Big Events


  • Nominated Principal Applicant: Dr. Sarah Larney, Université de Montréal
  • Professor Julie Bruneau, Université de Montréal and Centre de Recherche du CHUM
  • Professor Marie-France Raynault, Université de Montréal and Centre de Recherche du CHUM
  • Ms. Julie-Soleil Meeson, Association des intervenants en dépendance du Québec
  • Dr. Stine Høj, Centre de Recherche du CHUM,
  • Ms. Nanor Minoyan, Centre de Recherche du CHUM,
  • Ms .Camille Zolopa, Centre de Recherche du CHUM,
  • Ms. Iuliia Marakenko, Centre de Recherche du CHUM

For more information, please contact: Dr. Sarah Larney,

Related Syntheses


(External links)

Full PDF

Lay Summary PDF


People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) and Substance Use


To ensure the rapid dissemination of this critical information, information is published in the language in which it was submitted. Please contact us for French or English translations.

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