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Individuals with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) are Highly Susceptible to COVID-19, Study Suggests

Dec, 2020 - By WMR

Individuals with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) are Highly Susceptible to COVID-19, Study Suggests

According to a new research study funded by the National Institutes of Health have reported to found that people with substance use disorders (SUDs) are more vulnerable towards COVID-19 and its associated risks. Moreover, as per the outcomes, researchers suggest that health care providers should strictly monitor patients with SUDs and act accordingly in order to protect them from COVID-19 infection.

In this study, researchers studied over 73 million patients, of which over 7.5 million were associated with SUD in some point of their life. Moreover, over 12,000 were diagnosed with COVID-19, and around 1,880 patients had both SUD and COVID-19 diagnosis, which were recorded. Tobacco, opioid, alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine were the types of SUDs that were considered in this study.

The analysis of non-identifiable electronic health records (EHR) of these patients revealed that around 10.3% of the population were into SUD and represented 15.6% of the COVID-19 cases. The analysis further reported that individuals with recent diagnosis for SUD diagnosis on record are at higher risk to develop COVID-19, in comparison to patients without any history of SUD. Moreover, this link was strongest for opioid use disorder, followed by tobacco. In addition, researchers also reported that individuals with SUD diagnosis have high probability to suffer from worse COVID-19 outcomes such as hospitalization, or ultimately death, in comparison to people without SUD.

Dr. Volkow stated, “The lungs and cardiovascular system are often compromised in people with SUD, which may partially explain their heightened susceptibility to COVID-19. Another contributing factor is the marginalization of people with addiction, which makes it harder for them to access health care services. It is incumbent upon clinicians to meet the unique challenges of caring for this vulnerable population, just as they would any other high-risk group.”

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