People with substance use disorder at higher risk of experiencing adverse effects of COVID-19, suggests study

The scientists found that patients with SUD have compromised lungs and cardiovascular system which increases their susceptibility to COVID-19 infection.

Myupchar September 21, 2020 14:15:26 IST
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People with substance use disorder at higher risk of experiencing adverse effects of COVID-19, suggests study

The structure and cross-sectional view of Human Coronavirus. It shows depicting the shape of coronavirus as well as the cross-sectional view. Image shows the major elements including the Spike S protein, HE protein, viral envelope, and helical RNA. Image credit: Wikipedia

COVID-19 is still a relatively new infection for both doctors and scientists. New discoveries about the virus are being made every day. Initially, the high-risk groups for COVID-19 disease consisted of the elderly, those with low immunity and those who had pre-existing medical conditions. Gradually, supported by new findings, more groups, like pregnant women and smokers, were found to be at a high risk of severe COVID-19.

Now, recent research published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry has shown that people diagnosed with substance use disorders (commonly known as drug addiction) are also more likely to experience hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 infection.

Substance use disorder

Substance abuse disorder, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), occurs when a person continues to use harmful psychoactive substances, such as alcohol and illicit drugs, despite experiencing significant problems related to its use. It may result in dangerous pathological changes in the body as well as the brain.

Drug addiction and COVID-19

A study conducted by Dr Volkow from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, US and Dr Rong Xu from the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio included the analysis of the electronic health records of more than 73 million patients from 360 hospitals.

The scientists examined specific types of substance abuse disorder in these patients which included alcohol use disorder (AUD), opioid use disorder (OUD), tobacco use disorder (TUD), cannabis use disorder (CUD) and cocaine use disorder (Cocaine-UD).

Out of all the patients over 7.5 million were diagnosed with a substance use disorder once in their lifetime. Amongst all these patients, 1.2 million patients had AUD, more than 2.2 lakhs patients had Cocaine-UD, 4.9 lakh patients had CUD, 6.4 lakh patients had TUD and 4.7 lakh patients had OUD.

Furthermore, it was seen that around 1,880 patients had both SUD and COVID-19 infection.

Results of the study

The results of the study showed that COVID-19 patients with SUD showed increased health complications as compared to those without drug addiction. The results of the study showed that 41% of patients with SUD needed hospitalisation due to complications and around 9.6 percent of patients with SUD died. While the rate of hospitalisation and death in COVID-19 patients with no SUD was 30.1 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively.

The scientists found that patients with SUD have compromised lungs and cardiovascular system which increases their susceptibility to COVID-19 infection.

They concluded that doctors may need to screen and treat substance use disorder in COVID-19 patients to prevent complications that can be caused by the infection. They further stated that additional research needs to be done to understand the best way to treat those with SUD and COVID-19.

For more information, read our article on Drug abuse.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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