Comparison of Stimulant-Related Presentations to Victorian Emergency Departments Pre-pandemic and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Peter Redona, Cindy Woods, Debra Jackson, Jane Hayman, Kim Usher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction
Victoria, Australia, holds the unenviable record for the longest number of lockdown days in the world (262 days) and some of the most rigid restrictions. The purpose of this study was to determine whether changes in harmful drug use occurred during the pandemic by comparing stimulant-related presentations to Victorian emergency departments before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods
A retrospective analysis of data from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit was undertaken for two time periods, March 2019 to September 2019 and March 2020 to September 2020.

Results
The proportion of people presenting to an ED who used methylamphetamine/methamphetamine/amphetamine significantly increased from 2019 to 2020. Conversely, there was a significant reduction in ED presentations among people who used 3,4-methylenedioxy​methamphetamine (MDMA) and ecstasy during the study period.

Conclusions
COVID-19-related restrictions can affect mental health due to depression, or anxiety, particularly if people also experience loss of employment and income. In addition, mental health issues may affect substance use, including increased frequency of use and dose. This has implications for policy and planning during a pandemic and may be overlooked as the focus is on planning and resources for patients with COVID-19.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28813
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalCureus
Volume14
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2022

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