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Study demonstrates patients with SUDs have an increased risk of COVID-19 infections

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Substance use disorder is the persistent use of alcohol or another substance (drug) leading to health issues and other adverse consequences by affecting a person's brain and behavior, leading to an inability to control the use of a substance.

In the United States, an estimated more than 70,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2019 alone – mostly from opioid overdoses – coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, the epidemic of opioid use disorders (OUD), and other substance use disorders (SUD). Nevertheless, the direct experimental pieces of evidence on risks, disparity, and outcomes for COVID-19 infection in individuals suffering from an OUD or other SUD in the US are lacking.

Scientists carried out a retrospective case-control study using de-identified population-level electronic health record (EHR) data of 73,099,850 unique patients, of whom 12,030 had a diagnosis of COVID-19. The study demonstrated that patients with SUDs had a significantly higher prevalence of comorbidities and increased risk for COVID-19 infection and its adverse outcomes when compared to patients without SUDs. These findings warn public health authorities of the importance of prioritizing individuals with SUDs as having an increased risk for COVID-19 and its unfavorable outcomes.

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