COVID-19 Resources and Substance Use Disorders

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for people with substance use disorders and in recovery. The following resources from Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director, may help. See interviews with Dr. Volkow and read the FAQs on COVID-19 and Addiction/Substance Use Disorder.

> Learn more at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Vaping, Opioid Addiction Accelerate Coronavirus Risks, Says NIDA Director

Kaiser Health News, April 24, 2020
Volkow spoke with Kaiser Health News about the emerging science around COVID-19’s relationship to vaping and to opioid use disorder, as well as how these underlying epidemics could increase people’s risks. In 2018, opioid overdoses claimed about 47,000 American lives. Last year, federal authorities reported that 5.4 million middle and high school students vaped. And just two months ago, about 2,800 cases of vaping-associated lung injuries resulted in hospitalizations; 68 people died. Until mid-March, these numbers commanded attention. But as the coronavirus death toll climbs and the economic costs of attempting to control its spread wreak havoc, the public health focus is now dramatically different.

> Read the article

Addressing the Stigma that Surrounds Addiction

Untreated drug and alcohol use contribute to tens of thousands of deaths every year and impact the lives of many more. Healthcare already has effective tools including medications for opioid and alcohol use disorder that could prevent many of these deaths, but they are not being utilized widely enough, and many people who could benefit do not even seek them out. One important reason is the stigma that surrounds people with addiction.

> Read the article

NIDA. (2020, April 22). Addressing the Stigma that Surrounds Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/04/addressing-stigma-surrounds-addiction on 2020, April 22

HHS Official: ‘Fourth Wave’ Looms in Drug Crisis

Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit 2020

Despite overall drug overdose-related deaths decreasing in 2018, other statistics indicate a rising “fourth wave” in the nation’s substance use disorder crisis means there is more work to be done, federal officials said in addresses presented during the evening plenary session of the virtual Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit on Wednesday. Admiral Brett Giroir, MD, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said methamphetamine-associated deaths saw a 20% to 30% year-over-year increase in 2018, with methamphetamine-associated deaths overtaking those linked to prescription opioids and heroin, with cocaine soon to be next. Polysubstance use is now the norm, Giroir said, noting that methamphetamine and illicit fentanyl or fentayl analogue use together is on the rise.

> Read the article at https://www.psychcongress.com/article/hhs-official-fourth-wave-looms-drug-crisis

> https://www.rx-summit.com/

U.S. Representatives: Don’t Dial Back Opioid Response Now

RX Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit News, April 15, 2020

In Wednesday’s morning plenary session in the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, three U.S. representatives expressed cautious optimism about the nation’s drug overdose death rate dropping by 4.6% in 2018—the first decline recorded in decades—but added that neither that development nor the COVID-19 crisis is a reason to throttle back now.

“For the first time in literally 20 years, the number of Americans who lost their lives to opioid overdose declined. Think about that. That’s bending the curve in a productive way. But obviously, the fight is not over. We’ll have to continue in the years ahead to devote additional resources to research, law enforcement and, most importantly, finding ways to help folks who have become addicted—usually through no fault of their own, usually by following a legitimate prescription given to them by a medical professional.

> Read the article

For Drug Users, COVID-19 Poses Added Dangers

U.S. News, April 2, 2020
The National Institute on Drug Abuse director warns the coronavirus could increase the pressure to use, cause complicated health effects and curtail access to treatment for those struggling with addiction. As the novel coronavirus spreads and more states issue stay-at-home orders in the U.S., the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says social isolation and overburdened health systems could paint a dire picture for people struggling with addiction. "Every one of us is affected by COVID – maybe we don't get infected, (but) we're all anxious because of the uncertainties" surrounding it, NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow says. "How we cope with that anxiety is very much dependent on multiple factors, including our circumstances, but one of the ways that people cope with it is by taking drugs."

> Read the article

COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders

We know very little right now about COVID-19 and even less about its intersection with substance use disorders. But we can make educated guesses based on past experience that people with compromised health due to smoking or vaping and people with opioid, methamphetamine, cannabis, and other substance use disorders could find themselves at increased risk of COVID-19 and its more serious complications—for multiple physiological and social/environmental reasons. The research community should thus be alert to associations between COVID-19 case severity/mortality and substance use, smoking or vaping history, and smoking- or vaping-related lung disease. We must also ensure that patients with substance use disorders are not discriminated against if a rise in COVID-19 cases places added burden on our healthcare system.

> Read the article

NIDA. (2020, April 6). COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/04/covid-19-potential-implications-individuals-substance-use-disorders on 2020, April 10

NIDA director outlines potential risks to people who smoke and use drugs during COVID-19 pandemic

The precarious intersection of the COVID-19 national health emergency and the concurrent epidemic of drug overdose deaths is outlined in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Volkow discusses how the serious health risks of COVID-19 pose unique challenges to people who smoke or vape, are already struggling with substance use disorders (SUD), or are in recovery from addiction.
 
People recovering from addiction now face new challenges. Physical distancing measures, while critical to COVID-19 mitigation, eliminate the important element of social support needed for addiction recovery. Additionally, people with opioid use disorder may face barriers to obtaining medications (i.e., buprenorphine or methadone) or obtaining services from syringe services programs. Social distancing will also decrease the likelihood of observed overdoses; administration of naloxone to reverse overdose may be less likely, potentially resulting in more fatalities.

> Read the announcement

NIDA. (2020, April 2). NIDA Director outlines potential risks to people who smoke and use drugs during COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2020/04/nida-director-outlines-potential-risks-to-people-who-smoke-use-drugs-during-covid-19-pandemic on 2020, April 2

COVID-19 promotes life-saving policy change for opioid addiction

Facing the US pandemic COVID-19. USA, The US Administration of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. USA (SAMHSA) has announced new policy changes regarding home treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). Last week, the agency issued a directive to allow some patients in opioid treatment (OTP) programs to take their medications home, announcing that states may request "general exceptions" for all stable patients in an OTP to receive a 28-day supply of home-dose medications such as methadone and buprenorphine, for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). The agency also said states can now request up to 14 days of take-home medications for patients who are less stable but who, in OTP doctors' opinion, can safely handle this level of take-home medications. "SAMHSA recognizes the evolving problems surrounding COVID-19 and the emerging needs that OTPs continue to face," the agency writes.

> Read the article

Source: NewsDio is a website intended to deliver news related to Business, Tech, Finance, and Sports networks, March 21, 2020
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration https://www.samhsa.gov/coronavirus

COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders

As people across the U.S. and the rest of the world contend with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the research community should be alert to the possibility that it could hit some populations with substance use disorders (SUDs) particularly hard. People with opioid use disorder (OUD) and methamphetamine use disorder may also be vulnerable due to those drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health. 

> Read the article.

Source: NIDA. (2020, March 12). COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/03/covid-19-potential-implications-individuals-substance-use-disorders on 2020, March 20

Opioid Withdrawal Raises Health Risks for Injection Drug Users: Study

Health Day, March 23, 2020
Having opioid withdrawal symptoms increases the odds that injection drug users will share needles or have a non-fatal overdose, new research suggests. For the study, the researchers questioned more than 800 injection drug users in San Francisco and Los Angeles. "Withdrawal is one of the main chronic health challenges for this population, and we need to be intervening on it," said lead author Ricky Bluthenthal. He's associate dean for social justice at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, in Los Angeles. An average 130 people a day die in the United States from an opioid overdose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Needle sharing increases a person's risk of infections such as HIV and hepatitis, as well as other serious health problems, the CDC says.

> Read the article

AMA's "Opioid Task Force 2019 Progress Report”

The AMA Opioid Task Force urges physicians and other health care professions to continue taking action to help reverse the nation’s opioid epidemic, and the Task Force also calls on policymakers to take specific steps to remove barriers to evidence-based care for patients with pain and those with a substance use disorder. The 2019 progress report highlights physician action and the immediate need for policymakers to focus on removing barriers to evidence-based treatment.

  • America’s physicians are using state prescription drug monitoring programs more than ever.
  • The AMA Opioid Task Force encourages all physicians to enhance their education.
  • The AMA Opioid Task Force urges expanded access to Naloxone.

> Download the Report



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