Time for a New Year, let’s make it a healthy one! New studies suggest that people with alcohol and drug disorders may be at higher risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus, even after full vaccination.
Researchers looked at the medical records of 580,000 people between December 1, 2020, and August 14, 2021. They found that 07% of those with a substance use disorder (SUD) had breakthrough infections, compared with only 3.6% of those without an SUD. In addition, the risk of severe outcomes after a breakthrough infection was higher in people with alcohol and drug disorders.
Another study by Nora Volkow of NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse) and other researchers shows that people who had ever had an SUD were significantly overrepresented among those with breakthrough COVID infections — making up about 16% of patients compared with about 10% of the total sample. People who have ever had an SUD diagnosis were 1.5 times more likely to develop COVID-19 than were people without SUD. People with a recent SUD were more than 08 times more likely to become infected.
The increased risk for substance users may be related to diminished lung function or risk for respiratory depression from opioid use disorders (OUD), especially for African Americans. African Americans with a recent SUD diagnosis were twice as likely to develop COVID-19 as were Caucasians. African Americans with a recent OUD diagnosis were 04 times more likely to have COVID-19 than Caucasians with a recent OUD diagnosis.
NIDA reminds us that the vaccination is highly effective for people with substance use disorders, and the overall risk of COVID-19 among vaccinated people with SUD is still low. But if you have or have ever had a substance use disorder, L.A. CADA encourages you to get fully vaccinated and continue to take protective measures against contracting COVID-19.
Call L.A. CADA at (562) 906-2576 if you need help.