The whole world watched many serious events during the 2020 pandemic. The news covered little else. But one event that didn’t make the headlines was the rise of an already serious epidemic – opioid addiction.
As Covid-19 spread in the US in 2020, opioid addiction also spread and even found its way into areas that were not previously seriously affected. Life has been tough for virtually everyone, but the rise in opioid abuse and overdoses during the pandemic created several crisis-level problems for millions of Americans. If you are struggling with opiates or heroin It’s time to consider an opiate drug rehabilitation clinic for help.
How did it happen? Many experts believe that economic shocks, social isolation, a shift in work and school life, disruption of regular duties and responsibilities, and an uncertain future and increasing social unrest played a crucial role in reducing the number of overdose deaths during the year driving up the Covid19 pandemic.
A year marked by epidemics
A story from Utah, a state that previously avoided much of the opioid crisis, makes this point clear. In fact, prior to 2020, local Utah officials reported that the few opioid-related deaths the state experienced had flattened and even decreased in many counties across the state. But that changed with the outbreak of Covid, when the overdose rate in Utah spiked in 2020. A local official, Gabriela Murza, quoted: “Because it’s not just the opioid use itself, it’s not just the use of this prescription or that opioid. But it’s also the stress that came with COVID, the stress, the inability to maintain those close relationships or even go to recovery and support services or get the treatment they needed. Even if it was virtual, it wasn’t available to everyone. ”
The story from Utah is not unique. By far not. Across the country, and particularly in regions that appeared to be getting their opioid crises under control, 2020 saw a resurgence in overdose deaths. In fact, overdose deaths rose so rapidly during the pandemic that 2020 hit the highest drug overdose rate ever recorded.
“There’s kind of a perfect storm of factors that we know will increase drug use. People are more stressed and isolated, so they make unhealthy choices, including more alcohol and drug use. Doctors have largely focused on COVID-19 and medical systems are overwhelmed so people cannot always access the care they need … ”
It’s not surprising that substance abuse (and resulting overdose deaths) has increased during the pandemic. Dr. William Stoops, professor of behavioral science at the University of Kentucky, quoted: “There is some kind of perfect thunderstorm of factors that we know to increase drug use. People are more stressed and isolated, so they make unhealthy choices, including more alcohol and drug use. Doctors have largely focused on COVID-19 and medical systems are overwhelmed so people cannot always access the care they need. There is also a stigma surrounding substance use disorder that keeps people away from treatment, and that is even more true during a pandemic.
Overdose deaths rose during the pandemic
One organization, the Commonwealth Fund, found an alarming link between the surge in overdose deaths in the United States and the arrival of Covid-19 on US soil. According to their reporting, “The latest (CDC) data reflect September 2019 through August 2020. During that period, 88,295 deaths were forecast, a record high representing almost 19,000 more deaths (27%) than in the previous 12-month period”. . Using these projected data combined with final 2019 data, we estimated the monthly overdose deaths from January to August 2020. Our estimates show that the total number of deaths from overdose rose to record levels in March 2020 following the outbreak of the pandemic. Monthly deaths rose about 50 percent to more than 9,000 between February and May; in August it was probably around 8,000. Before 2020, monthly overdose deaths in the US had never risen above 6,300. ”
Although the number of deaths from overdose has already risen in the months leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is reason to believe that the pandemic made conditions worse for addicts. The most notable increase in overdose deaths in 2020 came after the arrival of Covid-19 in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020 overdose deaths were the highest ever in the United States.
Experts believe that the worsening conditions for addicts due to the pandemic resulted in riskier drug use behavior, which in turn led to a more pronounced increase in overdose deaths.
“The disruption of daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit people with an addictive disorder hard. As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it is important not to lose sight of the different groups that are otherwise affected … “
According to former CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield “The disruption of daily living due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit people with an addictive disorder hard. As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it is important not to lose sight of the different groups that are otherwise affected. We need to take care of people who are suffering from unintended consequences. ”Addicts already live in constant danger of a fatal drug overdose. Imposing the harsh conditions of the pandemic and all of its social, economic and public health determinants on addicts has simply accelerated that danger.
Unsurprisingly, the main reason for the rising deaths from overdose was opioid drugs or other drugs mixed with opioids. By then, the CDC published its toxicological results as follows:
- 37 of the 38 US jurisdictions with available synthetic opioid data reported an increase in synthetic opioid-related deaths related to overdose.
- Eighteen of these jurisdictions reported that their increase in synthetic opioid overdose deaths was over 50%.
- Ten states in the western United States reported a shocking 98% increase in deaths from synthetic opioid-induced overdoses.
- The CDC also reported an increase in cocaine-related overdoses. During the pandemic, cocaine-related deaths rose about 26%, although it is widely believed that these deaths were caused by cocaine mixed with synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
- Methamphetamine deaths also increased by 34%. In this case, too, most experts assumed that most of the deaths were also opioids.
The CDC wasn’t the only authoritative source reporting the increase in overdose deaths during Covid-19. The American Medical Association compiled a list of hundreds of reports from around the country, all of which confirmed the same basic thesis. While there is no doubt that the addiction epidemic was a serious and growing problem in the United States prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it appears that the pandemic has made conditions worse for addicts, increasing the likelihood of an overdose.
Treatment is the answer
Now that the country is opening up again, addicts and their families should take the opportunity to seek immediate treatment. While Covid-19 is likely to take a back seat due to the efforts of many, the addiction will not go away easily. If you or someone you care about is using opioids or other mind altering drugs, use the reopening of America as an added incentive to seek help from a qualified drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.