Those with Substance Abuse Disorders at Higher Risk for Breakthrough COVID

By conducting an analysis of the electronic health records of nearly 580,000 fully vaccinated people in the United States,  the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has concluded that those affected by substance abuse disorder– including alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, opioid and tobacco use disorders– have a higher likelihood of developing COVID-19 after being vaccinated.

 Also known as “breakthrough COVID”, the study concluded that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection among vaccinated patients with substance use disorders was low overall, yet still showed a striking uptick vs. those without substance use disorder.

7% of vaccinated people with substance use disorders had a breakthrough infection during the study, compared with 3.6% of vaccinated people without substance use disorders.[1]

It is suggested that the increased risk of breakthrough infections was partially due not to the substance abuse disorder itself, but due to co-occurring disorders and adverse socioeconomic characteristics associated with substance abuse.

Those with substance use disorders –– showed elevated risk of severe outcomes, including hospitalization and death, upon breakthrough infections. [2]

One interesting trend was that those with cannabis use disorder were still 55% more likely to experience substance use disorders, even though users tended to be younger with less co-occurring health disorders. This was presumably due to cannabis’ weakening effect on the lungs and immune system.[3]

If you believe you may be at risk, the NIDA urges those with substance abuse disorder to take all CDC- recommended precautions to protect themselves even if vaccinated.

To start the road toward your long-term health, contact Livengrin at 215-638-5200 or







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