The Department of Health is working with drug and alcohol task forces, sectoral oversight bodies and HSE addiction services to assist support groups and treatment programmes to implement this new guidance and to identify any issues of concern. The guidance should be considered interim, and is subject to ongoing review and updating to reflect public health advice, Government decisions on restrictive measures and emerging issues.
The guidance applies to the following drug and alcohol services and other addiction support services such as gambling addiction:
- support and recovery groups for people and families who live with drug and alcohol addiction (including gambling addiction), such as self-help/fellowship groups, peer support, family/parent support.
- community projects providing services and supports for people who use drugs, such as drug rehabilitation CE programmes, harm reduction/advocacy training.
- treatment programmes (non-residential) for people with drug and alcohol addiction, such as counselling, stabilisation, therapeutic communities, aftercare.
The main points of the guidance are as follows:
1. It is recommended to hold meetings and deliver programmes online or outdoors where this is possible, without diluting the benefits for participants
2. Where it is decided to host a face-to-face group/programme meeting, organisers are advised to undertake a risk assessment to ensure the health, welfare and safety of participants
3. Facilities used to host support groups and treatment programmes should be for exclusive use, where possible, and not shared with other users
4. The recommended maximum number of attendees at level 3 is 15 people (including leaders), with 2 metres social distancing
5. Support groups and programmes should last a maximum of 115 minutes (1 hour and 45 minutes)
6. Individuals at higher risk from Covid-19, or in close contact with such individuals, should only attend meetings that are conducted online
The guidance is available here