People with substance use disorders more vulnerable to COVID-19

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People with substance use disorders (SUDs) are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and its most adverse health outcomes, according to a study recently published in Molecular Psychiatry.

Researchers analyzed the electronic health record data of more than 73 million patients. Of these patients, 7.5 million had an SUD, and 12,030 had COVID-19. People with SUDs were 10.3 percent of the total sample but made up 15.6 percent of the COVID-19 group.

Those most at risk had been diagnosed with SUD within the past year. Opioid use disorder patients were 10.2 times more likely to have COVID-19, followed by tobacco use disorder, alcohol use disorder, cocaine use disorder, and cannabis use disorder.

Those diagnosed more than a year ago were 1.5 times more likely than the rest to have a COVID-19 diagnosis. Again, those with opioid use disorder were most at risk.

Patients with SUD also experienced more severe outcomes, while African Americans have worse outcomes than other groups.

People suffering from SUDs have harmed or weakened the body in ways that make people susceptible to infection. In addition, behaviors such as interacting with drug dealers users or other drug users make social distancing impossible, putting SUDs sufferers at risk.

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