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The COVID-19 Pandemic and Dimensions of Substance Use: A Narrative Review and Living Repository of Primary Data

1. Changes in Propensity to Use Substance
  • We found that individuals who are younger, frequent users, part of vulnerable groups (at-risk for HIV, vulnerable immigrant status, high deprivation, homeless, recent jail discharge)and with higher education level are more likely to experience changes in substance use patterns
  • Alcohol use increased among some adults but decreased among youth

  • Cannabis use appears to have increased more evenly

  • We found unclear patterns for anti-anxiety/depression prescription drugs

  • Use of illicit drug such as amphetamines, MDMA, cocaine, benzodiazepines declined in some areas and increased in others

  • Increases in fentanyl use in some places were observed

  • We also observed an increase in substance use within the first weeks/months of the pandemic and then a general decline (mixed evidence). It is unclear at this stage where trends are going.


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