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Converging impact of the ongoing conflict and COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and substance use disorders in Ukraine

Sonny S. Patel, MPH, MPhil, Oleksii Sukhovii, MD, Oleksandr Zvinchuk, MS, Julian H. Neylan, MS, Timothy B. Erickson, MD


Since the Russian annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the subsequent occupation of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Ukraine has been facing increasing security and healthcare challenges. The seven-year war in East Ukraine has led to a rise in substance and alcohol use and increasing addiction rates among veterans, internally displaced persons, and civilian survivors. This article examines the combined impact of the ongoing Russo–Ukrainian conflict and COVID-19 pandemic on substance use in Ukraine. It also gives an overview of the institutions in place to monitor and improve mental health in the country. The article highlights the urgent need for further funding and research on substance and alcohol addiction, with vulnerable populations affected by the conflict during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontline healthcare workers in this region should anticipate an increased burden of patients suffering from substance use disorders who are in need of emergency management intervention and proper behavioral health referrals.


mental health, COVID-19, substance use disorders

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