People with Substance Abuse Disorders
More Susceptible to COVID-19 and Its Complications
People with substance use disorders (SUDs) may be more likely to become infected and die of COVID-19, according to recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The effect was strongest for those with opioid use disorder and tobacco addiction because their lungs and cardiovascular system may already be severely compromised due to substance abuse.
Drug use hinders the body’s ability to fight viral and bacterial infections, disrupting immune function. Study co-author, Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, explained, “Opioids, including but not limited to heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl, work by slowing down the breathing rate. In addition, the chronic use of drugs such as tobacco, cocaine, and opioids are associated with heart problems, including risk for heart attacks and heart failure. The combination of the two leads to the increased risk of COVID and its complications.”