COVID-19 and SUDs

(by Karl Rajani)

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

  • People with a substance use disorder (SUD) at any time in their lives are 1.5 times more likely to contract coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) than those without an SUD, and those with a recent SUD are more than 8 times more likely.
  • People with opioid use disorder (OUD) and African Americans are at particularly high risk for COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 patients with SUDs are more likely to require hospitalization and to die from COVID-19 than those without SUD, with patients with OUD and African American patients at greatest risk.
  • One of the most common symptoms associated with COVID-19, which is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is impaired lung function. People with SUDs also frequently have diminished lung function or are at risk for respiratory depression from opioid use.
  • Therefore, it had been hypothesized early in the COVID-19 pandemic that people with SUDs may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and its most severe health outcomes. A recent analysis of health records confirms this assumption. “It is clear from our analysis that people with SUDs are indeed at higher risk of contracting and suffering worse consequences from COVID-19. This is especially true for African Americans,” says Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of NIDA and senior author of the study.
  • Source: NIDA. 2021, January 13. People with SUDs Have Increased Risk for COVID-19 and Worse Outcomes. Retrieved from
on 2021, April 26.