Craig Elazer was overdosed on fentanyl on September 1, 2020, killing Michelle Branch’s brother. His addiction to drugs that had plagued him since he was 12 had been treated, but a changing world caused by the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in his untimely death.
Thousands of jobs will be lost in 2020, including Branches. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that more than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses last year. According to this information, 2020 was the deadliest year for drug overdoses on record.
Epidemic Of Drug Overdose Deaths In The Shadow Of A Pandemic
A former deputy commissioner at the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, professor of public health and deputy dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said, “It’s terrible news”.
The pandemic had a devastating impact on our country, and we have experienced a record number of deaths from drug overdoses.
Tragic consequences follow an accident
Most of Elazer’s life was spent struggling with addiction. For self-medicating his anxiety, he was mostly addicted to alcohol, but he was also using other drugs. No rehab center had been able to help him, though he entered and left them many times.
As his sister told him, Elazer broke out of prison just as Covid was in full swing, despite the national unemployment trend, and found work caring for their disabled cousin. In addition, he found an apartment in an area of the city he called “terrible.”
Alcoholics Anonymous and a two-step program were two programs he had participated in. However, restrictions restricting in-person meetings made support groups online, and funding for those programs dried up.
It was nearly impossible for Elazer to get help because he was unfamiliar with how to use the newly developed technology to access online support groups. As a result, he stopped attending AA meetings and relapsed into alcohol abuse and drug addiction.
He likely thought he had purchased Xanax in the last hours before his death, according to his sister. But what he had purchased was actually fentanyl, which he ended up using.
In the evening, Branch and her cousin tried desperately to reach Elazer, but the elder’s son was the only one who could reach him. From Elazer’s front door, the son could see Elazer lying motionless on the ground, his legs stretched out horizontally. The ambulance arrived too late, so he called for help. The Branch’s cousin called them that night to inform them that Elazer was “gone.”
The new all-time high follows an all-time high
Since 1999, the NCHS has reported an increase in overdose rates. A rate of 70,630 deaths occurred in 2019, and compared to that type of death, the number rose almost 30% in 2020.
A new all-time high has been set, significantly increasing the levels of an all-time high, Sharfstein said. Almost every death is accompanied by a circle of trauma, reflecting so much tragedy and suffering. There were many people who had a personal relationship with that individual – their family, their friends, their loved ones. The effect has been catastrophic.”
Moreover, Sharpstein cited the Covid-19 epidemic as the cause of an increase in overdose deaths. According to him, the pandemic affected a wide range of people, causing “grief, dislocation, trauma, and economic hardship.” Even those who have been clean for a long time, or previously used drugs occasionally, might find themselves in difficult situations. Perhaps they have lost a loved one, or perhaps they have lost their job. Those risk factors may increase someone’s likelihood of using drugs, according to Sharpstein.
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