COVID-19: Increased Risk for People with OUD
People who use opioids at high doses medically or have OUD may be at increased risk because COVID-19 attacks the lungs.
For People with OUD
People who use opioids at high doses medically or who have OUD face additional challenges to their respiratory and pulmonary health. Since opioids slow breathing, it can cause a harmful decrease in oxygen in the blood which damages the brain. Reduced lung capacity from COVID-19 could be especially dangerous for people with OUD.
Please note, COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions could be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, talk with your healthcare provider or call the Resource Hotline at 1-800-920-4343 to connect with treatment and support services.
For example, many healthcare facilities are transitioning to telehealth (virtual) appointments when possible to follow social distancing recommendations. The Resource Hotline can help you navigate these changes and find available options in South Dakota.
This is a rapidly developing situation with many unknown effects on substance use disorders. Decades of research show 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 healthcare community should be aware of associations between COVID-19 case severity/mortality and substance use, smoking or vaping history, and smoking- or vaping-related lung disease.