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Thursday, July 16, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to Rise in Drug Overdoses

Years before the emergence of the novel coronavirus, another severe public health crisis was causing shock waves throughout our nation: the drug epidemic. Fatal drug overdoses, largely resulting from the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl, have killed around half a million people nationwide in the last decade. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be magnifying this risk for the millions of Americans living with substance use disorders.

What’s Causing the Surge in Drug Overdoses?

When the pandemic arrived in the U.S., some authorities hoped it might lead to a decrease in overdoses by disrupting drug traffic as states and nations closed their borders and shut major cities down. Sadly, the opposite seems to be the case. Emerging evidence indicates illicit drug use is on the rise as the coronavirus rages on. Stress, economic devastation and isolation may be driving increased alcohol use and prescriptions for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, which had seen a 34% spike by late May.

The interruption to their usual supply lines has caused people who rely on drugs such as opioids to seek new ways to obtain their next dose. They might also be more willing to take unfamiliar substances such as fentanyl to get high. More and more drug dealers are turning to fentanyl because it costs less and is easier to transport than heroin. However, unbeknownst to many opioid users, fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, which substantially increases the risk of overdose. Ingesting as little as 0.25 milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal.

Isolation Is the “New Normal”

In many cases, shelter-in-place orders have left people alone in their homes. If they take drugs by themselves, nobody will be around to call an ambulance or save their life by administering the opioid overdose antidote naloxone – with tragic results.

Loneliness and anxiety are two significant triggers for drug use and relapse. Compounding the issue, many therapists and recovery groups have stopped offering in-person services to help slow the spread of the virus. People who feel sad, frightened and desperate might turn to drugs and alcohol when they believe they have no other options for getting better. The result is worsening addiction, and in some cases, death.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed many weaknesses in America’s infrastructure – public education, our health care system and our social safety net, to name a few. The way we, as a nation, had been responding to our drug epidemic was insufficient even before the emergence of COVID-19. Now, how many more people are at risk for dangerous substance abuse because of these systemic vulnerabilities?

Putting Hope Within Your Reach

Don’t become part of the sad statistics surrounding drug abuse amid COVID-19. If you’re seeking a holistic alternative to 12-step addiction recovery, find your solution at Complete Harmony. We help pave the way to lifelong wellness and sobriety by empowering our clients to reach within themselves to improve their well-being. If the cycle of addiction has been weighing you down, rediscover your freedom and passion for life with our comprehensive one-, two- and three-month residential treatment plans. We’re looking forward to hearing from you soon.
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