PBS Newshour recently reported that in 2020, “more Americans died from drug overdose in a 12-month period than at any other point in history.” Why this causes such serious concern is that the current data only covers June 2019 through May 2020 so far. Let’s review.
A Closer Look at the Data
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Vital Statistics System analyzed provisional counts for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Between June 2019 and May 2020, “drug overdoses were linked to more than 81,000 people’s deaths.” Compared to the previous 12 months, this is an average 18 percent increase overall, but 20 percent or more in some areas of the country.
The primary spikes in this recording period occurred March 2020–May 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was first rising in the U.S. Researchers are wary of what data will present for June 2020 through May 2021 without immediate and proper intervention.
The CDC provided a state-by-state breakout of overdose cases in our region, with a notation of underreporting due to incomplete data:
Predicted cases June 2019: 1,370
Predicted cases June 2020: 1,631
Percentage increase in cases: 19.1
Predicted cases June 2019: 5,050
Predicted cases June 2020: 6,856
Percentage increase in cases: 35.8
Predicted cases June 2019: 1,064
Predicted cases June 2020: 1,462
Percentage increase in cases: 37.4
Predicted cases June 2019: 733
Predicted cases June 2020: 906
Percentage increase in cases: 23.6
Predicted cases June 2019: 2,051
Predicted cases June 2020: 2,684
Percentage increase in cases: 30.9
Nationally, Iowa and Louisiana showed the highest spikes in drug overdose deaths, with more than 40 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. Only four states—New Hampshire, Nevada, Idaho, and Alaska—had a decrease in overdose deaths in the same period.
A National Health Advisory from the CDC
The CDC data indicated that as the late 2019 rise became apparent, the organization declared a national emergency in March 2020, “but drug overdose deaths appear to have accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.” PBS Newshour reports that in April 2020, 2,146 people died of opioid overdose, followed by 3,388 deaths in May 2020, marking the largest monthly increases since 2015 when the federal government began collecting this data.”
In December 2020, the CDC issued an official health advisory to “alert public health departments, healthcare professionals, first responders, harm reduction organizations, laboratories, and medical examiners/coroners” to the following:
- A rise in overdoses due to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, carfentanil, and illicit derivatives; cocaine and combined mixes of cocaine and fentanyl; and psychostimulants and combinations of them, such as Adderall, Ritalin, methamphetamine, amphetamines, and other stimulants.
- The need for more immediate and proactive awareness about substance use disorder and specifically opioid use disorder; addiction prevention and treatment programs, as well as other harm reduction initiatives; and education and access to naloxone.
- A more unified effort to devote additional resources to at-risk populations, active service members and military veterans, and areas without proper healthcare and mental health services.
The CDC classified the next few months as crucial to providing proper responses “to the evolving overdose crisis.”
One Primary Reason for the Drastic Upswing: COVID
Without question, PBS Newshour noted, the pandemic overload on the U.S. healthcare system presented additional challenges for anyone dealing with other serious conditions, such as addiction. In its interview with the CDS, the news agency indicated that this overburdening compromises the ability of someone dealing with substance use disorder to:
- Visit a physician, mental health professional, or even an urgent care clinic because of fear of transmitting the virus, or a restriction on visitation because of limited resources.
- Seek proper medication-assisted treatment at clinics due to long lines and a lack of protective personal equipment. Without this care, more people die.
- Move beyond basic, immediate needs to get proper mental health and addiction treatment.
However, it’s important to note that drug overdose deaths have steadily climbed since 1999, with only a slight dip in 2018, according to PBS Newshour. This means no matter how much information is available, people are still struggling with addiction. Because of the pandemic impact, circumstances will only get worse for many individuals. How can this change?
What Twin Lakes Recovery Center Can Do for You
If you or a family member feels that drug or even alcohol addiction controls all aspects of life, now is the time to consider professional, individualized treatment.
- First, our facility follows all COVID safety protocols as directed by the CDC to protect our residents and staff members, and we’ve expanded our list of telehealth providers to provide the best recovery resources for clients. The pandemic shouldn’t stand in the way of you or someone you love receiving immediate, productive treatment based on addiction science.
- Second, to ensure a more effective experience, our therapists conduct comprehensive pre-admission assessments to design a treatment plan specifically for your needs.
- Finally, we provide extensive continuing care resources. This ensures lasting change. With the right support and services, the path of recovery can reaffirm who you really are and make the journey easier.
We understand this can be a strange and even frightening time, but we can help. Use the contact information on this page to start your new life today.