Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Drug Use: What’s the Connection?

SARS-CoV-2 yellow virus particles on a blue background.

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus (the novel coronavirus) particles, isolated from a patient. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The coronavirus pandemic has changed people’s lives everywhere. Our daily routines, including our school and work situations, are a lot different than they were just a few weeks ago.

(If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety during this time, there’s a free mental health hotline with experts who can help you sort through it all.)

A coronavirus is one type of virus; colds and flu are also caused by viruses. The disease caused by this coronavirus is called COVID-19. It’s a respiratory disease, which means it attacks the lungs and affects a person’s breathing. (For more information on coronavirus and COVID-19, visit

We know that smoking, vaping, using meth, or misusing opioids can all have an impact on the lungs. People whose lungs have been affected by drug use may be at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19. For example:

Now more than ever, it’s important to be smart about your health. Take care of your lungs: Avoid smoking or vaping any substance.

If you vape or smoke, this could be a good time to check out resources that can help you quit. If there are people in your home who smoke, you can suggest they read about the best ways to quit.

And to help yourself or someone you care about who might have a problem with drugs, see NIDA’s Step by Step Guides to Finding Treatment for Drug Use Disorders.

Learn more: Three surprising risks from vaping.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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