We have already looked in our previous articles through some of the health implications posed to individuals suffering from SUD – substance use disorder – in various geographical, economical, and social settings. 2020 comes to add to these with its own set of challenges, currently affecting everyone’s life, and – as always – singling out DOA users as a demographic particularly at risk.
The virus comes with specific lung and cardiac complications, increasing the risk for death and severe illness among cannabis and regular smokers. The Chinese Center for Disease Control has suggested a fatality rate of 6.3% for patients with chronic respiratory conditions, as compared to 2.3% in the general population.
Another category with a potentially compromised lung function are people with an opioid, methamphetamine or psychostimulants use disorder. Methamphetamine, in particular, is a highly toxic drug, causing pulmonary hypertension and cardiomyopathy, its users bearing a heightened risk for adverse outcomes of COVID-19.
All these are still merely medical data. More importantly, people with a substance use disorder face regularly social and economic challenges that are widely unfamiliar to the majority of the population. Lack of housing and access to proper healthcare has not yet been included in the COVID-19 statistics for this demographic. However, it is easy to surmise that when basic things, such as regular vaccines or check-ups are lacking, fast and effective emergency care for severe respiratory issues caused by an aggressive pandemic will follow suit. Another direct effect of the virus is the shutdown of many organizations and charities managing soup kitchens and shelters, adding an extra risk factor to a situation already complicated.
Drug screening is one of the best methods currently to make sure that the more unfortunate can access proper healthcare service in time before it is too late. Healthcare professionals are hard at work saving lives and one of the most efficient tools in their fight for the less privileged are the portable drug analyzers and other drug testing kits, allowing them to know in time what, when, and where is needed.