The response to the Covid-19 virus is reaching its third year. That sentence alone stirs up some sort of emotion with most, if not all of us, at this point. Some have struggled with a substance use disorder (SUD). Some have suffered through an alcohol use disorder (AUD). And some have experienced nothing at all. Regardless, the marathon that is the reality of COVID has left many of us exhausted and emotionally drained. Most of us are running on empty and looking to be relieved. Throughout this pandemic response, we have heard about the consequences of infection. But with those battling an addiction already or those with a genetic predisposition to addiction, they have found themselves struggling with more than use the airborne threat of Covid. The numbers are in and the pandemic response has contributed to an increase in drug overdoses.
Opioids and Drug Overdoses
Since March 2020, there has been an increase in both drug overdoses and substance use in general. Further, individuals with SUDs have shown to be more likely to experience unfavorable COVID outcomes. According to the American Medical Association (AMA) ALL STATES have reported a rise in overdose deaths during the pandemic. The evidence continues to point to the culprits known as methamphetamine, illicit fentanyl, cocaine, and fentanyl analogs or a mixture of the substances. Even heroin and prescription opioids tend to be laced with illicit fentanyl, often resulting in overdoses.
Overdose and opioid statistics:
- There have been approximately 100,000 drug overdose deaths between March 2020-March 2021, a 30% increase from the year prior.
- 10 states on the west coast reported more than a 98% rise in synthetic opioid-related deaths.
- Buprenorphine treats opioid use disorder (OUD), but less than 20% of individuals with an OUD receive medications such as these.
- Only 20% of U.S. pharmacies don’t provide buprenorphine.
- 37 of 38 jurisdictions in the United States with synthetic opioid data reported a rise in synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths. Nearly 20 of these jurisdictions reported a rise of more than half.
What can we conclude about these statistics? Perhaps, anxiety, depression, fear of the unknown, and “COVID fatigue” is wearing on many individuals. For some people, they may indulge in substance misuse as their way of coping with the emotional and mental anguish that this pandemic has brought on. Although some may see a light at the end of this very dark pandemic tunnel, we are still in the midst of COVID and don’t know how much longer this will be. It is clear that the isolation brought on by our response to Covid has increased drug addiction. It is clear that the loss of jobs, family, and relationships due to our response to Covid has been, or will be, just as catastrophic as this virus that has killed so many.
Some circumstances are simply beyond our control as this pandemic response has shown. We must discover what we can act on and seek help when we need it. Whether that’s through a supportive friend or family member or through therapy or counseling. And when facing an AUD or an SUD, seeking help from a licensed physician can make all of the difference between life and death. For those of us in addiction recovery, we must NEVER lost community again. We must learn from the past 3 years and never let ourselves isolate again.
If you or a loved one have been battling an SUD or an AUD during the course of this pandemic, you’re not alone. We’re here to help. We believe that addiction recovery must be done in community and San Diego Sober Living has a thriving recovery community that is waiting to take you in. Call us today!