In 2020, there were more than 93,000 overdose deaths in the United States. A contributing factor to this staggering fact is the rise of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. The pandemic has exacerbated the overdose epidemic, as necessary pandemic restrictions made it harder for individuals with addiction to receive the treatment and support services they need.
Substance abuse expert Scott Silverman has compared the death rate in the U.S. to a plane crashing every day as 240 people are lost to overdoses every 24 hours. Silverman says occasions like Overdose Awareness Day are important to shine a light on the problem.
“We’re probably not hearing about 90% of it right now,” Silverman said. “Between COVID and what’s going on in Washington, and now globally, and now these huge storms, it isn’t a topic that unfortunately makes the news right now, and I know it’s happening because I hear about it daily.”
Silverman also says the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to the increase in overdose deaths as stress and isolation lead people to self-medicate and in-person recovery groups are driven apart by social distancing.
In Phoenix, Arizona Fentanyl overdose deaths have increased by 478% from 2017 to 2020.
Teens and young adults are using their phones to buy and sell counterfeit pills laced with the powerful drug, which helps explain why kids in AZ are overdosing at an alarming rate.
Illegal fentanyl can also be mixed with other drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine and it’s a serious problem in Arizona. Fentanyl is the most common substance found in opioid overdose deaths in Arizona. Teens as young as 14 years old have overdosed and died after taking it.
Alcoholism & Addiction Assistance Association (5A) has been on the front lines battling substance use disorder in hopes of preventing overdose and helping those seeking recovery find hope for over fifty years.
It is the mission of 5A at this time to change the conversation we are having around substance abuse. Addicts are humans, too. Substance use disorder is a mental health issue and not a character flaw or a personal weakness. Drug addicts can and do recover every day. We’ve seen it. We are those recovered addicts.
Addiction treatment fails 100% of the time when the person is dead. Narcan saves lives and offers a second chance. It doesn’t matter if it is the 10th second chance, 5A is committed to using Narcan on any occasion where we can save a life.
Join us this October 16th, at the Phoenix Zoo for our annual walk for recovery. We will work to educate the community about Narcan, the overdose epidemic, substance use disorder, and mental health treatment for those struggling.