Background: While much attention has been given to how COVID-19 patients are treated (or fail to be treated), the impact of the pandemic on illicit drug users remains largely undiscussed. The consequences of COVID-19 on substance users and on the health care system are exposed.
Objectives: The aim of this short report is to understand the health issues that illicit drug users may be currently facing following the lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: We analysed 262 self-reported submissions of illicit drug transactions on the darkweb. The self-reports include the date of the transaction, the types of illicit drugs bought/sold, and whether the shipment of the illicit drugs succeeded, had issues (ex. unusually long delivery, an error in the type of drug shipped, quantity or concentration of the drug), or failed.
Results: Between January 1st 2020 and March 21st, 2020, deliveries of illicit drug on the darkweb were mostly successful (60% to 100%). Starting on March 21st, the number of shipments that had issues or failed to be delivered increased rapidly and represented a majority of all shipments (79%).
Conclusion: The flow of darkweb drugs has been disrupted at the same time as COVID-19 pandemic started to lead to lockdowns. This suggests that the lockdowns could have disrupted the sourcing of illicit drugs, thereby possibly impacting the health of illicit drug users.
Narcotics, Illicit drug trade, COVID-19 pandemic