Table of Contents
All across the country, federal and local officials are reporting disturbing spikes in drug overdoses? — an epidemic hidden within a global pandemic. Justifiably, the coronavirus crisis has claimed headlines for months as populations in every part of the world struggle to contain the disease. Nevertheless, researchers and authorities are now calling attention to many fatal overdoses in the pandemic. Experts estimate that, in the U.S., overdoses may have increased between 30–40% since the beginning of the pandemic? — a staggering rise.
Locations Reporting Rise in Overdoses
Long before the COVID-19 virus spread throughout the nation, Americans have been struggling with opiate addiction and dependence in every state in the United States. The same is true today, and, similar to the COVID-19 virus, the reported rise in overdoses is not limited to a single state or area. Yet, some states are facing mostly large increases in overdoses, and are taking action to combat the problem.
In Ohio, emergency rooms saw overdose-related visits rise from 2,868 in April to 3,666 in May. In response, officials are working to distribute more overdose-reversing drugs, despite limited supply chains and occupied medical specialists and first responders. In nearby Kentucky, the rate of suspected opiate-related overdoses has closely doubled during the pandemic. There were an estimated 20 overdoses per 100,000 residents in February, which jumped to 38 overdoses per 100,000 people in May.
Virginia and West Virginia are another two states that have been particularly hard hit with opiate overdoses since the start of the pandemic. The number of overdose deaths in some parts of West Virginia actually outpaced the coronavirus fatalities in March and April. In Roanoke County, Virginia, dispatchers responded to twice as many lethal overdoses in the first five months of 2020 than they did in all of 2019.
Because we are still in the pandemic and numbers can be slow to report, the true scale of opiate-related deaths during the coronavirus pandemic is not yet known. However, the American Medical Association has estimated that more than 35 states have already reported increases in opiate-related overdoses.
Causes for Opiate Overdose Increases
The novel COVID-19 has disrupted almost every aspect of life? — schools have been shut down, businesses closed, events canceled, and medical treatments delayed, among many other unfortunate events. The normal rhythms of life have changed in an unprecedented way.
While the sacrifices that persons have made to combat and contain the virus have inevitably had positive effects for some, it has come at a cost. For many individuals who struggle with addiction and dependence, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult to get treatment, stay sober, and survive.
One reason that public health officials cite when attempting to explain the rising opiate-related deaths during the novel coronavirus pandemic is the significant psychological stress of social distancing. Social isolation can cause depression, which can trigger a relapse. The isolation method of containing the COVID-19 has left many without jobs, regular structure, and face-to-face socialization. Professionals also observe that using drugs alone is riskier: with no one nearby to revive or call for medical attention, an overdose can lead to a fatal outcome.
Additionally, the COVID-19 has disrupted illicit drug supply, making the potency of drugs less consistent? — which can result in taking too much of a drug. The disruption in drug supply is not limited to illicit drugs. Overdose-reversing drugs such as naloxone can be difficult for officials and institutions to get their hands on, which may add to the staggering number of overdoses this year.
Lastly, it may be more difficult for people struggling with opioid addiction to get the treatment they need. Many treatment facilities, drug courts, and recovery programs have been forced to either close or scale back their programs and offerings during the shutdowns.
It is difficult to forecast the number of opiate-related overdoses in the months to come. As long as the pandemic continues to disrupt life in the U.S., the challenges of staying sober and getting treatment will probably not go away.
Actions States Can Take to Flatten the Curve
While it will not be easy or simple, states have measures they can take to “flatten the curve” of opiate-related overdoses. One recommendation is to approve emergency funding to keep treatment programs, recovery facilities, and needle-exchange programs afloat. Another approach would be to ease treatment barriers. Moving in this path, the federal government relaxed rules around prescribing methadone and buprenorphine. This action helped remove some of the red tapes that could have made dispensing these medications almost impossible, given the recommended and mandatory social distancing rules. Getting to the core of the problem, states’ efforts to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19 could also help restore life to its normal rhythms and allocate resources to fighting the opiate epidemic.
Get Started Today.
Successful drug rehab is attainable and possible to sustain. This will however require the person to take steps towards seeking assistance. The United Recovery Project enrolls patients from all over so your location is immaterial. Contact us today and kick start your drug treatment and rehabilitation. Enrolling in a facility near your residence ensures you are close to your family and get their support. However, you remain in your old surroundings that may hinder your efforts to get clean. Getting admitted to a facility far away, greatly increases the chances of successful rehab.