The Impact of COVID-19 on substance abuse

Updated: Jul 6


Although COVID-19 has impacted everyone, it has disproportionately disrupted the lives of people who use drugs in ways that hurt their mental health and changed drug use behaviors, increasing their risk for overdose. Drug overdose is one of the biggest public health threats of this era with more than 932,000 deaths since 1999 and continues to surge. According to CDC estimates, drug overdoses killed more than 107,000 people in the US only in 2021.


Scientists utilized a quantitative survey focused on COVID-19 administered to 50 people who use drugs along with semi-structured qualitative interviews with 17 people who use drugs to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic affected overdose risk among drug-using people. They demonstrated that the pandemic caused disruptions and destabilized societal factors at the structural and community levels and negatively affected outcomes related to mental health and drug use at the individual level, which further increased the risk for overdose. BioMedCentral scientists urge to create multi-level interventions targeting all societal levels to successfully address the large systemic issues like greater access to economic opportunities that include a living wage, housing, food, transportation, communication technologies, and minimizing the community stigma related to substance abuse.


According to CDC estimates, drug overdoses killed more than 107,000 people in US only in 2021.


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