Lack Of Help Programs Causes Increase In Overdose Deaths

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : July 15, 2021

As pandemic lockdown curbs made it harder for friends to avail of medical aid, the country saw a new record being set for the number of deaths related to drug overdoses. Dealers also seem to have been lacing the drugs with more powerful synthetic opioids, according to data that was collected on Wednesday.

American deaths from drug overdoses rose almost 30% in 2020. This figure currently stands at 93,000, which happens to be the highest that has ever been recorded.

Lack Of Help Programs Causes Increase In Overdose Deaths

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said that amidst the pandemic, a lot of programs that help drug addicts were unable to operate. Reaching people on the streets was extremely difficult, and people were far more isolated than they normally are.

Lack Of Help Programs Causes Increase In Overdose Deaths

A recovering addict, Arman Maddela, acknowledged that he was also at risk of being a victim of death. As he was not kept a check on, he relapsed during the pandemic. He admitted to using fentanyl, a synthetic drug that is known to be 100 times stronger than morphine and heroin.

He added that it is very easy to pass away from the usage of drugs due to the amount of fentanyl that is being circulated on the streets. He said that back in the day, a lot of people who relapsed were able to recover relatively easily, but that is not the case at present.

He went back to rehab in October and mentioned that he knew quite a lot of people who passed away due to overdoses and found that it was very unfortunate.

The latest data shows a rapid increase in overdose-related deaths during the pandemic, although they were already increasing in the months that preceded the pandemic.

Due to social distancing norms needing to be followed, access to programs that offer opioid substitution therapy, needle exchange, and places for safe injection where helpers could inject an antidote, ‘Narcan’ was reduced, which caused many fiends to die a lonesome death.

Due to stay-at-home orders, recovering addicts could not attend support group meetings or visit therapists.

In less obvious ways, pandemic lockdowns and distancing exercises are very likely to have contributed to the leap in drug overdose deaths.

Kate Judd, a program director at a San Diego rehab facility, said that isolation is a well-addressed factor in anxiety and depression. She added that these feelings can very easily lead to drug abuse.

In addition to these pre-existing issues, the drugs became deadlier themselves. The frequency with which suppliers mixed fentanyl with cocaine and meth to boost their effects increased tenfold during the pandemic.

 The National Institute on Drug Abuse director, Dr. Nora Volkow, said that the sort of drugs that are available now are far more dangerous.

Unfortunately, the closing of borders did not reduce the distribution of fentanyl-like the government hoped, but it seems to have increased to a ridiculous amount. 

In the twelve months of 2020, this amalgamation of events resulted in 93,331 deaths. Compared to 2019, where there were approximate 72,151 deaths related to drug overdoses, there has clearly been a huge increase.

The data released by the National Center for Health Statistics showed that opioids were responsible for 73% of overdose deaths.

Most US states followed the same trend with the largest increase in deaths seen in Vermont, which had increased by 57.6%”; followed by Kentucky, an increase of 54%; South Carolina, 52%; West Virginia, 50%; and California, 46%.

Alarmingly, it is being seen that the US is seeing more deaths due to overdose than Covid deaths.

This is definitely a new sort of crisis and is not going to go away any time soon.

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Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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