The Unfortunate Connection Between COVID-19 and Overdose

America has been in a drug crisis and opioid epidemic for quite some time now. Unfortunately, things are only getting worse due to the current pandemic. To rectify this growing issue, America will need to utilize opioid overdose treatment. 

The misuse of opioids and other drugs has been a serious issue in America since the 90s. Over the course of the past decade, the misuse of opioids and other drugs became more than just an issue. It became a full-fledged epidemic. This was particularly apparent in 2017 when the number of drug and opioid overdoses and deaths reached a new peak. 

To help fight the war against drugs, the American government invested $21 billion in efforts to target the opioid crisis. This investment helped things after a while. In fact, the number of deaths caused by drugs and opioid overdoses decreased by several percent in 2018. This provided hope that the country finally had a handle over the drug crisis. Unfortunately, this was not the case as the rates of deaths caused by drug overdose increased again in 2019.

Now that 2020 is facing the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths due to drug and opioid overdoses are only increasing. To understand just how much of an effect this pandemic will have on the rates of deaths caused by drugs and opioid overdoses, you must first understand the ins and outs of the opioid crisis itself. You must then also understand how the coronavirus pandemic hinders drugs and opioid overdose treatment.

History of the Opioid Epidemic

The American opioid crisis had its start in the early 90s. The opioid crisis then took off in the late 2000s. 

The First Wave of the Opioid Epidemic

The first wave of the opioid crisis occurred in 1991. Around this year, it became popular for doctors to prescribe opioids and combinations of medication with opioids in them to patients that wanted medical pain relief. 

This sudden increase in opioid prescriptions occurred because pharmaceutical companies claimed that the risk of becoming addicted to opioids was low. It was also during this time that pharmaceutical companies promoted taking opioids to treat non-cancer-related pain in patients. 

Because of all of the promotion and over-prescribing of opioids, by the time the year 1999 rolled around, 86% of opioid users were taking the drug for non-cancer-related pain. It was also around this year that the misuse of opioids started to become an apparent problem. 

The Second Wave of the Opioid Epidemic

The second wave of the opioid epidemic occurred in 2010. It was around this year that a large portion of the people that misused opioids started using the illegal form of opioids, otherwise known as heroin. Heroin is a drug that you inject into your body.

Although illegal, heroin is considered an opioid because it is made from morphine. Morphine is a natural substance found in the seed pod of opium poppy plants. All opioid drugs come from the opium poppy plant. 

Because one major side effect of all opioids is the reduction of pain, heroin also has this characteristic trait. As a result, people with pain can also become addicted to heroin. Heroin addiction can also begin in opioid addicts because the chemicals in their brains that are dependent on what’s inside opioids, will also respond to heroin. 

Once America started to realize the addictive nature of opioids, the country tried to reign in the number of opioid prescriptions that doctors gave out. As a result, more and more people turned to heroin to upkeep their addiction to opioids. Over time, the number of deaths that heroin-related overdoses from 2002-2013 increased by 286%. 

The Third Wave of the Opioid Epidemic

The third wave of the opioid epidemic started in 2013. It was around this time that synthetic forms of opioids, in particular, fentanyl, became popular. In fact, it was also around this time that people sought out illicitly produced fentanyl rather than seek diverted medical fentanyl. Over time, the misuse of fentanyl became so popular amongst opioid addicts that there were over 20,000 fentanyl-related deaths in America in the year 2016 alone. 

Overdose and Death Rates Caused by the Misuse of Opioids and Other Drugs from 2017-2019

The number of American deaths due to drug-related overdoses reached 70,699 in 2017. With the help of opioid overdose treatment and the time and money invested in targeting the opioid crisis, the rate of the total number of deaths caused by drug overdose decreased in 2018 by 4.6%. This was a huge feat in the war against drugs as this was the first time America had seen a decline in drug overdose deaths in almost 30 years. 

Unfortunately, in 2019 the total number of deaths caused by drug overdose went back up 4.6%. This erased the 2018 progress that was made in the war against drugs. 

Not only did the 2019 number of deaths caused by drug overdose erase the 2018 progress that America made in the war against drugs, but by the end of the year, it also topped it. This is evident by the fact that the total number of American deaths that were caused by drug overdose in 2019 reached 70,980. This number of drug-related deaths in one year even surpassed the previous 70,699 record number of drug-related deaths in 2017. 

Overall, more than half of the 2019 overdose-related deaths had to do with synthetic fentanyl. In fact, the number of American deaths related to synthetic fentanyl overdoses in 2019 was 36,500. This means that 36,500 of the 70,980 drug overdose-related deaths in 2019 involved synthetic opioids. 

Overdose and Death Rates Caused By Cocaine and Methamphetamine Abuse from 2017-2019

The number of cocaine and methamphetamine-related overdose deaths in 2019 increased by 10.7% between 2017-2019. Even many of the 2019 deaths that were caused by cocaine and methamphetamine overdose had something to do with fentanyl. This is apparent in the fact that many of these 2019 deaths were due to overdoses caused by combination drugs made out of fentanyl, cocaine, and meth. 

By the time the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finalizes the total number of drug-related overdose deaths in 2019, one may assume that the total number of deaths increased. 

Overdose and Death Rates Caused by the Misuse of Opioids and Other Drugs in 2020

Data shows that the trajectory of death rates caused by drug overdoses will increase throughout 2020. Within the first quarter of the 2020 year, data even showed that drug overdose death rates were up 11.4% from 2019. At this rate, the 2020 percentage of deaths caused by overdoses will have the sharpest annual increase since 2016.  

The last month of the first quarter of 2020 was when the coronavirus pandemic started. Therefore, the rates of drug overdoses and deaths will greatly increase throughout the rest of 2020. This is especially true since the pandemic caused many people to lose their jobs. As a result, they have more time on their hands. 

Ways Covid-19 May Cause an Increase in Drug Overdose and Death Rates in 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has put a big wrench in the year 2020. This is because it changed the way that we all function, work, shop, and more. This virus has had a major effect on drug overdoses and death rates in America. Below are the ways that Covid-19 helps improve on their rates of drug overdoses and heath. 

It Brings About Poverty and Unemployment

Because COVID safety measures called us to social distance and stay six feet apart from one another, many small businesses have had to close. As a result, many people lost their jobs during the pandemic. When people are poor and stressed out about money and employment, they become depressed. To help cope with depressed feelings, many people turn to drugs. This will cause drug overdose and death rates to increase. 

If Covid-19 makes people live without employment for too long, some people could reach complete poverty or become homeless. Studies show that people and areas that are stricken by poverty tend to struggle more with drug misuse. As a result, addicts that become poor or homeless due to the pandemic will likely go back to misusing drugs. The misuse of drugs will then lead to more cases of overdoses and deaths caused by overdoses. 

It Caused Many Addiction Treatment Facilities to Shut Down

Many addiction treatment facilities are closing down during the pandemic. This is partly because many addiction treatment centers cannot properly social distance their residents. Inpatient treatment centers are particularly having a hard time socially distancing their residents. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers also struggle with providing all the required safety measures to stay open. 

Another reason why many addiction treatment centers are shutting down is that they are not receiving enough business to stay open during the pandemic. One reason why rehab facilities do not receive enough business during the pandemic is that prospective patients are afraid that attending rehab will cause them to expose themselves to the virus. Another reason why rehab facilities are not making enough business during the pandemic is that they aren’t taking advantage of telehealth treatment. 

The less access that addicts have to receive help at treatment centers, the more likely that drug overdose and death rates will increase in 2020. 

It Causes Drugs and Opioid Overdose Treatment Funds to Be Cut

As fewer people are using mental and behavioral health services during the pandemic, funding for such services is being cut. Cutting funding for mental and behavioral services during recessions is not uncommon. In fact, a handful of states already decided to cut fiscal funding for mental and behavioral services for the next year. Because treatment for drug and opioid addiction falls underneath mental and behavioral health services, cutting funding for such services will cause an increase in deaths caused by drug and opioid overdoses. 

Opioid Overdose Treatment and Prevention: Coastal Detox Will Never Abandon You

Because the rates of drug and opioid misuse and addiction are only increasing, it is imperative that addicts have access to treatment. Lucky for you, Coastal Detox provides high-quality addiction treatment during the pandemic. We’re even offering residential and dual diagnosis treatment right now. 

Here at Coastal Detox, we provide treatment for addictions to opiates, heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, alcohol, crack, painkillers, and benzodiazepines. To learn more about the treatment programs that we have here at Coastal Detox, feel free to contact us today. You can gain access to the tools you need for opioid overdose treatment and prevention now!

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