Strange Side Effects of Covid-19

Man with a briefcase and mask
Image: nito100 / iStock by Getty Images

The impact of stay at home orders around the world seems to have had an unintended effect, according to a recent study by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime or UNODC. UNODC discovered there are a few unintentional consequences of the lockdown, namely, an increase in the cost of street drugs, substance abusers switching substances, and a decline in purity.

The scarcity of street drugs can have an impact on what they cost. Either driving up or down prices of drugs depending on how much is available. Another factor to consider is different drugs are transported in different ways, the impact of lockdowns on drug prices and shortage vary depending on which drug is being transported. Traditionally drugs are exchanged with face to face interaction, due to lockdowns this has become increasingly difficult.

As an example, heroin is mainly transported by land, so lockdowns in different countries have had a substantial impact on the supply and demand for it. By contrast, cocaine has been less impacted as it is mainly transported through maritime routes. Less heroin on the streets, may at first seem like a good thing; yet this is far from the case.

Many professionals worry the decrease in supply will turn many substance abusers to experiment with other substances or increase risky behavior such as going out of quarantine to acquire drugs. An increase in pharmaceutical medications has already been reported with substances such as benzodiazepines already doubling in cost in some areas due to shortages.

There are other negative outcomes with a potential increase in intervenous drug use as addicts struggle to get their high. Adding a higher risk of drug users contracting HIV and Hepatitis C. Another risk is the potential for drug dealers to begin “cutting” drugs in an effort to make more of a profit. To cut a drug refers to the practice of mixing in other substances to make the amount of drugs they have seem like more. With cutting drugs the chances of ingestion of other harmful chemicals increases as drug dealers try to continue to make a profit in the face of shortages. This is why it is so important to get your loved one help now if they are struggling with substance addiction.

You can read the study in its entirety by visiting the link in the resources at the bottom of this article.

If you have a family member who is struggling with substance misuse, you must keep your eyes open. Much of the worry is the shortage of abusers’ drug of choice may drive them to high-risk behavior possibly turning to crime or more likely experimentation to get their supply. Keep in mind treatment providers are available, and lockdowns do not prevent an addict from getting into treatment. Please call us if you need more information or help.




Aaron has been writing drug education articles and documenting the success of the Narconon program for over two years.