CCSA: Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People Who Use Substances, What We Heard

While the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic may be challenging for us all, they are especially so for people who use substances. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction consulted with a sample of people who use or have used substances, their families and friends, harm reduction workers and people providing peer support services, to gain a better understanding of the challenges they are facing during this time. The results of these consultations are presented in Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People Who Use Substances: What We Heard.

Respondents identified a number of concerns that have emerged or heightened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as strategies to better meet the needs of those who use substances during this time. The findings presented in this resource are meant to spark dialogue and further research as the pandemic continues to evolve.

Highlights from the consultations include:

  • People who use substances report a loss of social connection and supports, as well as increased isolation, fear, and anxiety, as a result of the measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Respondents report a higher level of concern associated with the drug supply, its quality, degree of contamination, potency and cost, and their ability to access it given physical distancing recommendations.
  • COVID-19 exposes the shortcomings that have long existed for people who use substances in the type, access to and availability of healthcare and social services, and in their living conditions such as housing.
  • Response measures for people who use substances during a pandemic must be informed by those with lived and living experience to leverage their expertise in developing realistic, creative solutions in both the immediate and medium term.

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Click here to download the report.

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