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Apr 2021

Alcohol Use Disorder During COVID-19


Alcohol consumption has increased by 25% since the start of COVID-19. This resource helps providers use virtual care to screen, diagnose and treat at-risk drinking and AUD in adults (>18 years).

It supplements the CEP’s Alcohol Use Disorder Tool (2018)

Please note, the following resource was developed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, when necessity required deviation from existing evidence-based guidelines as in-person visits were significantly limited. Certain frameworks and guidance within the resource are applicable only to the "crisis care" needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and should be reviewed with this consideration in mind. Established Clinical Practice Guidelines are the authoritative source for evidence-based care.

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About the tool

To help providers use virtual care to manage alcohol use disorder, the resource is divided into the following four sections: 

  • Screen, categorize and diagnose patients with AUD
  • Manage and treat patients with AUD
  • Additional guidance for planned alcohol reduction to achieve abstinence
  • Virtual patient resources for at-risk drinking and AUD

The Screening for and Managing At-Risk Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) During COVID-19 Resource was developed using a modified version of the Centre for Effective Practice’s integrated knowledge translation approach. The CEP ensures that primary care providers are engaged throughout the resource development process. Clinical leadership was provided by Dr. Sheryl Spithoff and Dr. Jose Silveira, along with a clinical working group and an advisory committee.

This resource was developed by the Centre for Effective Practice and University of Toronto's Department of Family and Community Medicine with collaboration from the Ontario College of Family Physicians, Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario, Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario, Ontario Medical Association Section for General and Family Practice, eHealth Centre of Excellence, Ontario MD and Ontario Health (OTN).

Clinical leads

  • Sheryl Spithoff

    MD, MSC, CCFP (AM)

    Sheryl Spithoff is a clinician investigator at Women’s College Hospital and an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. Her areas of research include access to care for people who use substances as well as the impact of commercial interests on health and the healthcare system. She was a co-chair for Health Quality Ontario’s Quality Standard committees on Opioid Use Disorder and on Alcohol Use Disorder.

  • Jose Silveira


    Dr. Jose Silveira is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. Since 2001, Dr. Silveira has worked closely with the Ontario College of Family Physician’s Collaborative Mentoring Networks on the steering committee, as co-chair and as mentor. The networks support primary care providers in managing mental disorders, addictions and chronic pain. Dr. Silveira’s professional focus is to support the delivery of mental health and addiction care through primary care and community networks.

Clinical working group

The following clinical working group of providers helped with the development of the resource:

  • Payal Agarwal, MD, CCFP,  BASC
  • Anna Holland, MD, CCFP (AM)
  • Leah Skory, MD, CCFP
  • Jennifer Wyman, MD, FCFP, DABAM, MPH
  • Lindsay Hancock
  • Judy Wells (Patient Representative)
  • Paul Newcombe (Patient Representative)

Conflict of interest

Clinical leads received compensation for their role. 

Clinical working group members received an honorarium for their participation.

Focus group and usability participants received a small token of appreciation (e.g. gift certificate).

Conflict of interest

The clinical lead received compensation for his role. 

Clinical Working Group receive an honorarium for their participation.

Usability participants (family physicians and primary care nurse practitioners) received a token of appreciation for their participation (e.g., gift certificate).

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