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Association between Positive COVID-19 Diagnosis and Polysubstance Use Behavior Among Cannabis Users During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Preliminary Results from the COVID-19 Cannabis Health Study

Ranya Marrakchi El Fellah
University of Miami

Co-Authors: Bria-Necole A. Diggs1, Sitara Weerakoon2, Jessica Y. Islam2, Marlene Camacho-Rivera3, Sarah E. Messiah4, Johis Ortega1, Denise C. Vidot1
1University of Miami 2Moffitt Cancer Center 3SUNY Downstate 4University of Texas

Since the COVID-19 Pandemic was declared a national emergency in March 2020, there has been an increase in substance use (NIH, 2022). In this study, we aimed to evaluate polysubstance use after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis among cannabis users throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by examining changes in substance use reported among respondents to the COVID-19 Cannabis Health Study.

An online survey was distributed March 2020 when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic until March 2022. A subsample of cannabis users who received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis was generated for analyses. The COVID-19 Cannabis Health Questionnaire was used to collect self-report quantitative data on substance use behaviors with Tobacco, Alcohol, Opioids, Methamphetamine, Cocaine and Psilocybin. Prevalence estimates were conducted using SAS Analytics.

The analysis sample consisted of 2,816 participants. From this, 261 self-reported their COVID-19 diagnosis with 70 reporting a positive COVID-19 test result (26.82%). Majority of positive test results were males (n=37) and the majority of positive test results were Non-Hispanic White race/ethnicity(17.29%). The prevalence of cannabis users with a self-reported positive diagnosis of COVID-19 (26.82%) was higher than non-cannabis users (0.0%). Among cannabis users, the majority of positive COVID-19 diagnoses was associated with less alcohol use (34.29%) than those without a positive diagnosis (p=0.05). With this, 24.29% of positive COVID-19 cases led to an increase in alcohol use. Among cannabis users that tested positive for COVID-19, majority reported never using psilocybin (72.86%), cocaine (80.00%), methamphetamine (98.57%), opioids (91.43%), tobacco (58.57%). However, there was a larger self-reported increase in cannabis use among COVID-19 positive users (52.86%) compared to the majority of non-positive cannabis users reporting no change in their cannabis usage (n=88, 46.07%).

While the study sample had a limited number of responses to the COVID-19 testing questions, preliminary data begin to show the need to further explore the impact of COVID-19 on substance usage within a larger population. While cannabis usage increased for cannabis users and alcohol usage decreased, the reasons for this change can guide future research in better understanding social behaviors.

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