NIDA Warns About Addiction and COVID-19


As of today, March 27th, 2020, 1,438 souls have been lost in the United States. Moreover, America overtook both China and Italy for having the most confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are now 94,238 Americans who have tested positive for the potentially lethal coronavirus.

Last week we shared with you some valuable information about protecting your health and your addiction recovery amid a pandemic. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we hope that you and your family are doing everything you can to stay healthy and disease-free.

We are also hopeful that those of you working programs of recovery utilize online resources to keep your program safe. While the days of late are darker than any other time in recent memory, together, we can overcome this public health crisis.

Experts warn that the situation in the U.S. and abroad will become more severe. So, it’s essential that everyone – especially those with pre-existing health conditions – take all necessary precautions to prevent virus transmission.

Here in California, which is where HVRC is located, state officials are doing everything in their power to combat COVID-19. Right now, the State of New York is the epicenter of the epidemic in America, but that can change in the near future. In a letter to the President and Vice President, California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote:

“We project that roughly 56 percent of our population – 25.5 million people – will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period.”

Currently the Empire State has 44,635 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 519 New Yorkers have died from complications linked to the coronavirus. The Golden State currently has exponentially fewer cases and deaths than New York at this moment, with 4,040 people battling the virus, and 82 Californians have died.

Addiction Puts People at Higher Risk of Contraction

Those living with addiction, both inside the rooms of recovery and out, are also at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. As we mentioned above that people with pre-existing health conditions, especially those with respiratory disorders, are more susceptible.

Many people living with alcohol or substance use disorder also have co-occurring illnesses related to their prolonged drug and alcohol use. Those actively using and some individuals in recovery have weakened immune systems that a virus attacks with greater ease. With that in mind, such people need to take the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines seriously.

On Tuesday, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released a statement titled “COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders.” We strongly encourage you to read it at length when you have the time.

NIDA warns that smokers and people with either opioid use disorder or methamphetamine use disorder can be more susceptible to COVID-19. Opioid addiction and stimulant abuse are known to be harmful to one’s respiratory and pulmonary system.

It’s worth pointing out that many of the people who have died after contracting the virus also had respiratory and pulmonary health problems. Since the primary target of coronavirus is the lungs, anyone with conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is extra vulnerable. NIDA writes

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.

A large number of people in recovery are active or former smokers and vapers. Some have COPD, asthma, or other respiratory health conditions. Even nonsmokers in sobriety could be at a heightened risk of contraction and may face more severe complications if they get sick.

Fortunately, the vast majority of 12 Step recovery groups are now meeting online via video conferencing. Still, members of the Fellowship can be exposed when outside their homes. At HVRC, we ask you to take NIDAs information to heart and adhere to CDC and WHO recommendations when leaving the house.

California Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital

Even though we are all facing the worst pandemic in living memory, those battling the disease of addiction need to be able to access recovery services. We must remember that alcohol and substance use disorders can be deadly too, and the opioid addiction epidemic is not over.

Those who are ready to break the disease cycle of addiction and adopt a program of recovery are invited to reach out to HVRC. While we must take extra precautions now at Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, our Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH) remains open.

We are still accepting new patients while we continue to follow the CDC COVID-19 guidelines. Take the first step toward a life in recovery by contacting us today at 866-273-0868.