Psychopathological Burden and Quality of Life in Substance Users During the COVID-19 Lockdown Period in Italy

Giovanni Martinotti, Maria Chiara Alessi, Chiara Di Natale, Antonella Sociali, Franca Ceci, Lorenza Lucidi, Elena Picutti, Francesco Di Carlo, Mariangela Corbo, Federica Vellante, Federica Fiori, Gaia Tourjansky, Gabriella Catalano, Maria Luisa Carenti, Chiara Concetta Incerti, Luigi Bartoletti, Stefano Barlati, Vincenzo Maria Romeo, Valeria Verrastro, Fabio De GiorgioAlessandro Valchera, Gianna Sepede, Pietro Casella, Mauro Pettorruso, Massimo di Giannantonio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Following the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, a rigid public health strategy of reduced social contact and shelter-in-place has been adopted by the Italian Government to reduce the spread of the virus. In this paper, we aim at evaluating the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic, and the relative containment measures, have had on a real-life sample of patients suffering from substance use disorders (SUDs) and/or behavioral addictions. Methods: An anonymous questionnaire was filled out by 153 addicted patients, both outpatients and residential inpatients, recruited across Italy and highly representative of the current Italian population suffering from addictions. Psychopathological burden (anxiety and depressive symptomatology, somatization, irritability, and post-traumatic symptoms), quality of life, and craving changes in daily habits were assessed. Results: In our sample, we found moderate rates of depression (22.9%), anxiety (30.1%), irritability (31.6%), and post-traumatic stress (5.4%) symptoms. Psychopathological burden was globally higher among residential patients. Reported levels of craving were generally low. Discussion: This study is the first attempt to collect Italian data regarding the effects of the rigid quarantine period, during the COVID-19 pandemic, on patients suffering from a SUD and/or behavioral addictions. The presence of a moderate psychopathological burden correlated to poor quality of life and low craving scores represented the main outcomes. Long-term studies, with follow-up after the end of the restrictive measures, should be considered to implement our findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number572245
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Sep 3 2020


  • addiction
  • COVID-19
  • craving
  • psychopathology
  • substance use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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