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The Coronavirus: Twice the Threat for People Suffering from Substance Abuse Disorder


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Image Credit: hackensackmeridianhealth

The Centres for disease control and prevention (CDC) created an illustration to depict the ultrastructural morphology of the coronavirus. The illustration showed spikes present on a spherical surface which represented the virus surrounding its virion. The representation was inspired by how it appeared to an electron microscope.

 In 2019, coronavirus spread massively across China. The virus seemed to have originated in Wuhan, China, and was named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, abbreviated to SARS-CoV-2. The virus started affecting the population across several other continents like the USA and Europe towards the end of 2019.

 The same year the infection or the disease caused by this virus was named the coronavirus disease and is now popularly known as covid-19. As countries panicked with the growing number of cases affected by the virus, there was intense research on the virus and its effect on different sectors and communities.

 Researchers found that the covid-19 virus affected the respiratory system and brought down its functioning by harming its anatomical and morphological structure. It was said that the virus would be a threat to everyone, but it shall impose a greater threat on people suffering from substance abuse disorder.

Why are substance abusers at greater risk?

substance abusers
Image credit: lsfnet

People suffering from substance abuse disorders usually suffer from malfunctioning lungs or weak lungs and affected anatomy. Since the covid-19 virus also tends to affect the lungs primarily, the threat to the lungs is double as compared to the people not suffering from any kind of substance abuse.

 It was also found out that people who vaped, consumed marijuana or opioids suffered a greater threat from the covid-19 virus than the rest of the population. People consuming opioids regularly were indeed more vulnerable to a deteriorated pulmonary health. 

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Several people suffering from substance abuse in America and many countries in Europe were rendered homeless, and therefore the spread of this disease via them was greater and a big threat to society. The US government and the European government had to put in extra efforts and work extra hard to let the homeless and vulnerable people be protected and taken care of, and not let the infection spread from them to the rest of the population.

The origin of SARS-CoV-2:

Researchers who have been working on the SARS-CoV-2 for a long time, have come to a conclusion that the virus arrived from a different species of mammals to infect human beings. It has been mentioned often that the virus must have originated from the Bats and when the Bats were consumed by human beings, they got infested in them. 

The SARS-CoV-2 first originated in Wuhan, which was the capital of the Hubei province in China. The virus started spreading from general contact and the people affected by it started suffering from respiratory tract infections and severe pulmonary deterioration. Initially, it was considered influenza but as soon as the fatality rate multiplied exponentially, it was clear that this infection was more than just a common cold.

The obstacles:

One of the major challenges that was faced in the process of controlling the spread of coronavirus infection was the trouble the government was having in trying to find out the exact fatality rate. An appropriate fatality rate can be found only when one has an access to the total cases involved in the covid-19 infection. There were several cases that went undiagnosed and many others were asymptomatic.

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It was a major obstacle in finding out the exact fatality rate. Death in case of the covid-19 infection was observed mostly in the elderly or people suffering from some serious illness before the covid-19 infection. Underlying health issues such as diabetes, cancer, and some respiratory diseases made people more vulnerable to the covid-19 infection and more prone to death. 

Those who suffered from any kind of underlying diseases, people suffering from respiratory tract diseases, or who were involved in smoking, vaping, marijuana, opioids,  methamphetamine, etc, happened to suffer from some serious complications during their covid-19 infection, which made their condition worse and compromised lung function.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Image Credit: tampapulmonologist

People suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were heavily affected by the coronavirus. People who were at an even higher risk were those that suffered from multiple health issues like COPD and some cardiovascular disease. 

Covid-19 affected the lungs of the patient and reduced its function, which led to oxygen shortage in the body. In case, the person also suffered from another respiratory disease or cardiovascular disease, the oxygen provided to the body was even less, which imposed a great threat to their life. 

When the research for the effect of the covid-19 virus was in its initial stages, a series of data released by the Chinese center for disease control and prevention,  suggested that people suffering from the chronic respiratory disease had a fatality rate of 6.3 % while those who did not suffer from the from any chronic respiratory disease had a fatality rate of 2.3 %. Also, when a study suggested that the fatality rate was more in men as compared to women, there were several questions raised. If a detailed analysis conducted on the same, was to be believed, 52% of men smoke cigarettes compared to just 2% of women in China, which appropriately explains the big difference in their fatality rates.

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The Covid 19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on the health and wellness of people. If we tend to take a look back at several events from the origin of the virus, to the discovery of its prognosis and the initial threats imposed, we might register that there have been several sections of people, who have suffered worse than the general population. Studies suggested that people who smoked marijuana, vaped, consumed tobacco in any form, or for patients of substance abuse or substance use disorders, were more prone to not just the covid-19 infection, but there were severe complications during the infection.

A major reason for these worsening cases was the fact that people who suffered from substance use disorders or consume marijuana, tobacco, opioids, etc, suffered from compromised lung functioning already. When they were attacked by the virus, their condition only deteriorated.


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