Substance Use and COVID-19

Substance Use and COVID-19

  • It is recognized that the public health messages for COVID-19 are hard to practice when people are struggling with problematic substance use or homelessness.
  • COVID-19 infection (cough, difficulty breathing) may be made worse by problematic substance use where Fentanyl and other opioids can slow your breathing rate; COVID-19 may increase the risk of overdose death when using opioids. Remember there is some evidence that people can have COVID-19 and not know as they may not have symptoms.
  • BE aware that some early symptoms of withdrawal and COVID-19 infection are similar. These include fever and muscle soreness. Opioid withdrawal may make breathing difficulties worse.
  • Prepare for potential supply disruptions. Have backup plans. Have all the necessary medications, food, and drinks needed to help detox.
  • Most drug using behaviours can increase the risks of Covid-19 transmission; we need creative solutions to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and protect people who use drugs as they are at increased risk of serious illness or dying from COVID-19.
  • Use basic precautions and harm reduction measures when possible:
  • Find “buddies” who can bring you food, harm reduction supplies, medicine, and substances.
  • Do not share supplies.
  • Clean surfaces with soap and water, alcohol wipes, bleach or hydrogen peroxide before preparing drugs if possible.
  • Carry naloxone and have an overdose plan.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use tissues.
  • You can consider using a non-medical mask to prevent you from coughing, sneezing onto others.