How COVID-19 May Impact People Who Use Drugs and People at Risk of a Drug Overdose

  • Limited access to harm reduction supplies including sterile syringes and other injection supplies, fentanyl test strips, and naloxone.
  • Challenges accessing drug treatment resources including mutual aid and self-help groups, medication as treatment including methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, etc.
  • Increased stigmatization of people who use drugs contributing to increased isolation, shame, risk-taking, reluctance to seek treatment and support, negative perceptions and violence against people who use drugs.
  • Higher levels of stress may cause changes in substance use patterns, access to support systems and services, and the availability of drugs and alcohol.
  • Increased risk of overdose and overdose death due to social distancing, isolation, using alone, changes in known drug supply, and fear of responding to an overdose due to COVID-19 exposure. Note: when responding to an overdose, use breathing shields/barriers, gloves if you have them, if not, wash hands thoroughly afterwards, etc. Using a breathing shield/mask is a good strategy for preventing transmission of any virus, including COVID19.