Substance Use and COVID-19: Risks

Vaccine Hesitancy and COVID-19 Risk Amongst Individuals with Substance Use Disorders

The ASAM (American Society for Addiction Medicine) recently revealed an under-examined trend in vaccine hesitancy—the population of individuals struggling with Substance Use Disorder (SUD’s). This group of individuals has a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and experiencing worse symptoms, but they’re less likely to pursue vaccination. Feelings of shame, or past discrimination in healthcare settings are substantial barriers, which stop this group of people from engaging in a voluntary health visit. Studies show that even when vaccinated, those with SUD’s are more vulnerable to the virus. 

Even before SARS-CoV-2 threatened the global community, the World Health Organization reported that vaccine hesitancy was one of the biggest threats to global health. Media attention has highlighted the impact of COVID in death and hospitalization rates in areas that are under vaccinated. In many such regions, distrust in the government, or misinformation adopted through social media is the cause for vaccine hesitancy, but there is very little emphasis on the evidence base and experience of substance users.

To read more about the effect of COVID-19 on SUD’s from a variety of leading scientific magazines, click here.

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