The social distancing that has taken hold against the coronavirus epidemic represents a conundrum for those whose ongoing health depends on human contact. For example, behavioral health and other programs that treat people in addiction, as well as outpatient services for pregnant women and other vulnerable medical patients, all are facing unprecedented disruption. So are tens of thousands of recovering people in the Philadelphia region, as many meeting spaces for 12 Step, group therapy, and other sobriety maintenance programs close — and questions arise about how, or whether, to gather for mutual support.
On Tuesday, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued guidance to permit states that have declared a public health emergency to waive requirements for daily, in-person patient visits. Pennsylvania and New Jersey should act to allow licensed local medical facilities to provide 28-day, take-home methadone supplies to their most stable patients. The federal government is also suggesting 14-day supplies for other patients.