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Government recognises the vital role played by drug and alcohol support groups and treatment programmes in reducing the harms of substance use and supporting rehabilitation and recovery. Support groups and programmes help individuals to build their recovery capital and to avoid relapse into harmful patterns of substance use.

This guidance on the safe operation of drug and alcohol support groups and treatment programmes is a complement to the national framework for living with Covid-19, including levels 3 and 4. It also builds on Covid-19 resources for addiction services and guidance for vulnerable and at risk groups.

The guidance also applies at level 5 of the national framework. Individuals should adhere to the public health advice and restrictions at level 5, including staying at home and restricting movements to within 5km of home, except for their attendance at support groups and treatment programmes and other specified exceptions.


The guidance applies to the following drug and alcohol services

  • support and recovery groups for people and families who live with drug and alcohol
    addiction (including gambling addiction), eg self-help/fellowship groups, peer support, family/parent support
  • community projects providing services and supports for people who use drugs, eg drug rehabilitation CE programmes, harm reduction/advocacy training
  • treatment programmes (non-residential) for people with drug and alcohol addiction, eg counselling, stabilisation, therapeutic communities, aftercare


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Cathy McEvoy

Author Cathy McEvoy

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