Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People Who Use Substances: What We Heard

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) released a study titled “Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People Who Use Substances: What We Heard” which interviewed 17 informants to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on their lives. It is important to remember this is not an accurate representation of all those with substance use disorders but opens the discussion of the impact of COVID 19. The article focuses on 4 main aspects: 

  1. Physical Distancing and Social Isolation 
  • The loss of social connections/healthcare access, lack of job stability and loss of survival abilities for street involved individuals greatly impacted mental health and wellbeing and introduced suicidal thoughts, trauma and fear. 
  1. Healthcare and Support Systems 
  • The pandemic has highlighted healthcare gaps including lack of PPE, insufficient online support meetings and loss of harm reduction services for those with substance use disorders. 
  1. Health Vulnerabilities
  • Those with substance use disorders are typically more likely to contract/have worsening symptoms from COVID-19. As well, the pandemic has constricted drug supply alongside decreased support which leads to more dangerous street drugs. 
  1. Resilient Responses 
  • Though there has been increased health risks during COVID 19 the healthcare systems have somewhat adapted to the pandemic and improved collaboration and communication. 

There is still much work to be done to decrease health risks for people who use substances during COVID 19 including but not limited to a safe supply of substances/safe injection sites, safe housing, increased PPE and increased COVID 19 testing.

Give the full report a read below and share your opinions/findings with family and friends!

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