A study has revealed that people who have substance use disorder are at higher risk of death due to COVID19 disease and infection. Experts say that people who are dealing with opioid use disorder and tobacco obsession are more likely to die due to COVID19 disease. The co-author of the study, Dr. Nora D. Volkow has said that such drugs reduce the ability of the immune system to fight against viral and bacterial infections. She has informed that opioid slows down the respiratory centers in the brain, which triggers the increased risk of COVID19 and its side effects. This study has been funded by the National Institutes of Health. It has been published in the journal of Molecular Psychiatry.
The epidemic of opioid, which has started in 1990, has turned into a global crisis now. Experts fear that with the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, both are going to collide soon in the US. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that nearly 70000 people in the US have died due to opioid overdose last year. Experts believe that the tally is going to increase in 2020. The overdose of the opioid is the result of the respiratory depressant effect of these drugs. Opioids like heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl, and hydrocodone immediately delay the rate of breathing. At the same time, COVID19 as well impacts normal breathing and makes it difficult for the patients to properly take the oxygen in. Experts say that consumption of tobacco, cocaine, and opioids is associated with a higher risk of heart issues as well such as heart attack and stroke. Cocaine works quite differently than opioids. It constricts the blood vessels. Severe cocaine use can trigger high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for severe COVID19.
Experts have concluded the study saying that all types of substance use is extremely comorbid with the usage of tobacco. This can make people more susceptible to respiratory ailments. The CDC as well has warned people that smoking can lead to heart and lung diseases and at the same time people with underlying heart and lung issues are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with severe COVID19 infection. The officials have said that smoking can cause inflammation, which weakens the immune system to fight off the infection. Health experts say that social distancing and restriction on social life have contributed to the higher number of people using the substance in the United States. The study advises that authorities need to include the screening and treatment of substance use as a part of the plan to contain the COVID19 pandemic.