The US lockdown resulted in a significant increase in drug overdose deaths last year. According to the CDC, overdose deaths in 2020 went up 29.4%, as the nation was in a COVID lockdown for the majority of the time. One of the main reasons behind such a more considerable increase in drug overdose deaths in 2020 was the closure of treatment centers.
An estimated 93,331 people died because of a drug overdose death last year, as this number was estimated at 72,151 in 2019. These numbers were the most significant amount of overdose deaths within 12 months, and it was the biggest increase since 1999, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
The New Opioid Epidemic
Information from the NCHS also shows that overdose deaths in 2020 from opioids increased from 50,963 to 69,710 within one year, nearly a 37% increase. The opioid epidemic remains a major issue in the United States, as deaths from using synthetic opioids and psychostimulants also became much greater in 2020. There was also an increase in overdose deaths related to cocaine and prescription pain medications.
COVID Lockdown and Other Factors
One of the biggest reasons for such an increase in overdose deaths is the US lockdown, making it difficult to visit treatment centers. The additional stress from dealing with a pandemic and an uncertain future created the perfect storm for anyone struggling with substance use disorders.
Many people were also afraid to seek help for their mental health due to COVID, despite healthcare providers offering remote access. These additional barriers in receiving in-person assistance made it a challenge to receive adequate healthcare.
All of this extra stress often results in more anxiety and difficultly sleeping. Other factors besides COVID also created more stress, such as the social unrest in the news and people being exposed to violent images frequently.
Unfortunately, many people attempt to self-medicate by abusing drugs. These unhealthy coping mechanisms can often lead to an overdose death. Finding a way for people to receive timely care as soon as possible is essential in overcoming the opioid epidemic. Reaching out to a doctor and making a safe plan is critical if you or a loved one struggles with drug misuse.
Recommendations from the CDC
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers several recommendations in dealing with the opioid epidemic. These recommendations include expanding the distribution of naloxone while providing more overdose prevention education to first responders, public health professionals, and other community partners. Creating more awareness and giving more access to treatment for substance use disorders is especially important due to the impact of the US lockdown.
Intervening early with high-risk individuals is critical in limiting drug overdose deaths. Improving the detection of overdose outbreaks to create a more effective response is also essential in overcoming the opioid epidemic. The COVID lockdown throughout the national, state and local levels had an unintended consequence of increasing drug overdose deaths in 2020, as it’s now more important than ever to build awareness and make drug treatment centers more accessible.
Additional Steps Taken By the CDC
The CDC is also taking additional steps to combat the opioid epidemic. Some of these steps include using data to monitor any emerging trends to help implement prevention activities. Strengthening the response to the epidemic at the state and local levels is also a top priority, such as working with public safety and community partners to identify overdose threats and help people find effective treatment. Continuing to increase public awareness about the significant risks of opioids is also a top concern.
Opioid Epidemic – What You Can Do
The COVID lockdown created a lot more stress and disrupted the daily lives of everyone. An increase in social isolation and a lack of support created significant mental health challenges. Dealing with the impact of the lockdown and other stressors was especially difficult for many people struggling with substance abuse.
Learning more about all of the different risks of opioids is important in building more awareness while helping friends or family members overcome drug abuse. Understanding how to administer naloxone is another critical aspect of preventing drug overdose deaths. Helping loved ones find the proper care at a treatment center is now more important than ever, as many people are still dealing with the impact of the COVID lockdown in the United States.
The opioid epidemic became even more severe due to the impact of the lockdown. Understanding how to provide adequate treatment and increase accessibility is essential in avoiding a repeat of the opioid epidemic in 2020. Overcoming all of these various challenges won’t be easy, but everyone has a part in reducing the number of overdose deaths.