Breakthrough COVID-19 is a hot topic. And now, a new study says marijuana abuse could increase the odds of developing it.
Many of us are being overly cautious when it comes to COVID-19, even if we’ve been vaccinated. That’s mainly because we’re starting to hear more about breakthrough cases of the virus. And now, heavy marijuana users have even more to worry about.
A new study, published in the journal World Psychiatry, and led by researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), examined COVID-19 breakthrough cases in people diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD), including marijuana.
Participants coping with marijuana abuse disorder were more likely to have breakthrough COVID-19 infections, with researchers speculating that this is due to the effects that the drug has on the lungs or, more rarely, on the immune system.
“Patients with cannabis use disorder, who were younger and had less comorbidities than the other SUD subtypes, had higher risk for breakthrough infection even after they were matched for adverse socioeconomic determinants of health and comorbid medical conditions with non-SUD patients,” determined the researchers. “Additional variables, such as behavioral factors or adverse effects of cannabis on pulmonary and immune function, could contribute to the higher risk for breakthrough infection in this group.”
The study echoed some other recent findings, such as the fact that the Moderna vaccine provides more protection than the Pfizer vaccine, with participants who received the latter shot being more likely to experience breakthrough COVID-19.
Cannabis use disorder is a complex topic, with many not believing that marijuana use could result in addiction, at least not when compared to other addictive substances like alcohol or drugs that have deadly consequences. Still, when looked at through the lens of COVID-19, marijuana use provides some risks that other drugs don’t, especially when it comes to lung damage. To a lesser degree, people who were addicted to tobacco were also more likely to have breakthrough COVID-19.
Heavy cannabis consumers often report experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping or decreasing their consumption of the plant. These include anxiety, anger, sleep irregularities, appetite problems, restlessness, depression and even physical reactions like headaches and vomiting.