Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Robert Pack

Thesis Professor Department

Community Health

Thesis Reader(s)

Sean Fox


The COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected the lives of most Americans. People with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) were particularly vulnerable to the negative effects brought on by the pandemic. This study explored the increase in deaths due to opioid overdose during the pandemic exacerbated by factors such as increased stress, decrease in treatment options due to social distancing requirements and facility closures, social isolation, and an increase in spare time. Access to treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) was interrupted by the measures meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Through a systematic review of current literature, it was demonstrated that existing patients were able to maintain access to care, while few new patients were able to initiate treatment. Telehealth proved to be a vital means of assuring PWUD were able to access life-saving treatment amid a pandemic. Further research is needed to determine whether SUD treatment measures during the COVID-19 pandemic warrants changing the policies long term.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.