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Drugs & Health Blog

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

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 NIDA Blog Team

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 coronavirus.gov.)

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.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.

Comments

Is the NIH and/or CDC compiling statistics regarding drug use and COVID-19? If so then I would love to read or see the data models for that information.

During stressful situations it is not uncommon for people to use drugs or alcohol to try to feel better. We don’t yet know if COVID-19 has resulted in a change in substance use, but it is being studied.

People who smoke, vape, or have a substance use disorder (SUD) may be at greater risk for developing COVID-19 because they are more likely to have suppressed immune systems, are at greater risk for respiratory infections, and may have lung and heart diseases. Access to health care may be limited in some locations, and people with SUD may not be able to get care when they need it. Also, people who are in recovery may not be able to get the support they need because of social distancing.

It’s important for family and friends to be aware of signs of substance use if their loved ones are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. You can learn more about the challenges of COVID-19 for people with addiction and SUDs here.

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