Thursday, February 22, 2024

What COVID Has Taught Us About Safe Drug Use

It is pretty clear that we should not be sharing joints, bongs, and vape pens. All of this is obvious, yet it is counter intuitive to the social atmosphere of marijuana use.

A doctor’s take on what COVID has taught us about safe drug use.

The explosion of coronavirus cases has awakened the world as to how quickly diseases may spread in our mobile society. We have all been given advice as to how to protect ourselves and the people we love. With the COVID-19 outbreak, is to time to change our habits and embrace safe marijuana use?

Purell and other sanitizers have jumped off the shelves in markets. People are wearing surgical masks and even stealing surgical masks even though they have been given good advice through evidence that masks worn by the healthy will not prevent the spread of disease. Simple hand washing and avoiding contact appears to be the most important part of prevention of disease.

It appears that the people most at risk of severe disease and death are the elderly and those who are medically frail with lung disease, diabetes, immunodeficiency and those who smoke.

It is hard to know who is at risk of severe disease in the United States. At this time the disease is underreported in the country. Our best reporting comes from China, but we have to realize that their health care system and population is different than the U.S..

After examining 72,000 patients, they found a case fatality rate (CFR) of 2.3%. But the most important part of this reporting has to do with age groups and those with other diseases and their risk of death.

legal marijuana users have stopped buying vapes following illness epidemic
Photo by HighGradeRoots/Getty Images

From what we know, most people have a very mild illness, however, those who are elderly have a much higher risk of severe disease and death. The elderly also have a greater risk of preexisting diseases and immune systems which are not as robust. In the Chinese data we see a CFR of 14.8% in 80-years-olds, which decreases to 0.2% in those 10- to 39-years-old and 0.4% in 40- to 49-year-olds.

RELATED: Are Smokers And Vapers More At Risk For Coronavirus?

So, if you are under the age of 50, there is some risk of death associated with COVID-19. But the reality is that if you do not already have a preexisting serious disease, the risk of death is quite small. The importance of prevention of disease in this age group is not transmitting it to a higher risk group. That being said, we still do not have information about the rate of pneumonia, degree of pneumonia or long term after effects in all age groups.

We do not have significant data of the rate of disease or the CFR in the United States because we have not tested a significant amount of people. We will get that data as more people are tested who have minimal-moderate symptoms. We do not know if there will be long term lung damage from pneumonia in people in the United States.

RELATED: Doctor’s Advice On How To Ease Anxiety Around Coronavirus

How do we decrease contact in recreational drug use? It is pretty clear that we should not be sharing joints, bongs, and vape pens. All of this is obvious, yet it is counter intuitive to the social atmosphere of marijuana use. Will we end up only having parties through Skype/FaceTime/Hangout or other visual voice chats. I doubt it, but it sure decreases the chance of communicable diseases.

But people!! We are dealing with real disease here that is easily spread. We know that COVID-19 is more communicable than SARS/ MERS (remember them?), but much less deadly for those who are infected. The life you might be saving might not be your own, but that of your parents or grandparents or Mr. Jones who lives down the street.

Thanks for thinking of others.


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