Patients with substance use disorders (SUDs) are at up to 10-times the risk for COVID-19 compared with nonaddicts, according to a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. After analyzing the electronic health records of more than 73 million patients, researchers discovered that patients addicted to opioids were at the greatest risk (10-fold higher than nonaddicts), buy by no means the only group whose addiction leaves them at increased vulnerability for the virus. Tobacco use disorder puts patients at 8.2-fold increased risk, followed by alcohol use disorder (7.8), cocaine use disorder (6.5) and cannabis use disorder (5.3). In general, patients with addictions were also found to be at increased risk for hospitalization and mortality. This may be even more concerning given anecdotal evidence that stressors associated with the pandemic may increase the likelihood that recovering addicts may experience a relapse in their addiction. The take-home for urgent care providers is to inquire about history of substance abuse or a diagnosed addiction, and to ensure patients are aware of resources for treatment, but also that addicts are aware of their increased need to take precautionary measures to avoid infection.
If You’ve Treated an Addict, You’ve Treated Someone at High Risk for COVID-19