The correlation between COVID and drug use
The side effects of a nationwide pandemic are still developing and being measured but one major development is the increase in the overdose epidemic. Overdose deaths surged during the height of the pandemic as more drugs laced with fentanyl were discovered. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90,000 Americans died due to drug-related overdose during the 12-month period ending in September 2020.
A report by the American Society of Addiction Medicine states that synthetic opioid fatalities rose by an unprecedented 55% during the twelve months ending in September 2020.
Arizona is experiencing a 48.1% increase in overdose deaths from January–August 2020 vs. January–August 2019.
The data is proving that of those deaths, it’s rare to find a person that has fatally overdosed strictly from Cocaine or methamphetamines but that it’s a combination of these hard drugs laced with fentanyl that is killing people at a grim rate.
So, why the correlation between the Covid pandemic and the overdose pandemic? Studies have shown that there is a significant increase in the number of Americans using alcohol or drugs to cope with the pressures of the pandemic. One team of CDC researchers found roughly 13% of people surveyed either began using drugs during the pandemic or increased their use of illicit substances.
Typically, people suffering from substance abuse are more at risk for contracting Covid and have less access to health care. Hard drug users are also facing stigma in the health care world, and are less likely to seek medical care.
The Biden administration is campaigning to address the opioid crisis through a public health approach that includes expanding funding and resources, reforming the criminal justice system, increasing insurance coverage, and widening access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and mental health care.
Health professionals in Arizona are urging the use of “Narcan” (Naloxone) and working towards spreading public health information on the subject to reduce stigma. Health officials are also encouraging an increase in funding towards sober living homes, treatment facilities, and addiction specialists as well as educating the public on the seriousness of the overdose epidemic.