Twin Pandemics: Overdoses are More Common and Deadly than Ever Before

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published its ever-more grim overdose statistics, and it’s not looking good. The data set is published annually and tracks the previous year’s deaths attributable to overdoses as well as where those ODs occur and what drugs are involved.

As early data suggests, 2020 was staggeringly deadly. Alongside the catastrophic pandemic, overdoses raged as never before. Consider the statistics reported by the CDC:

Overdose deaths spiked significantly in 2019, as compared with 2018, which itself was the deadliest year yet on record. In 2019, 67,367 people died, marking a nearly 5 percent increase, according to the CDC. Their early data, however, suggests that 2020 is set to be even deadlier than 2019—and set a new, heartbreaking record for the deadliest year ever recorded for drug overdoses in the US.

According to CDC estimates, 81,230 drug overdose deaths occurred from June 2019 to May 2020. The largest uptick was recorded from March to May of 2020—just when the pandemic began, along with the associated economic disaster, lockdowns, and social distancing.

Heath authorities are clearly concerned as they recently issued a health alert that noted a “concerning acceleration” in overdose deaths for 2020, for which complete data will only be compiled sometime in 2021.

What’s Behind the Increase in Overdose Deaths?

The year 2020 was legendary for the difficulties and hardships associated with it. Ass we reported early in the pandemic, everything that made the year hard for people everywhere took an exceedingly brutal toll on people with substance use disorder. The coronavirus pandemic brought with it unprecedented stress due to job loss, isolation, grief, and uncertainty.

People lost loved ones, their jobs, their homes, and their sense of security. Even the most trusted stress coping mechanisms were stripped away: stuck indoors, people couldn’t exercise, see friends, or access health services or recovery meetings.

There was also a reported increase in overdoses that may not have otherwise been deadly. Because of strict social isolation orders, many people found themselves using alone—leaving no one to call 911 or administer a life-saving dose of naloxone in the event of an overdose.

Fentanyl Continues to Devastate

Fentanyl, the extra-potent opioid, has been at the heart of many record-breaking statistics. We have watched the synthetic opioid become more prevalent in recent years, showing up in everything from heroin to Valium pills.

For most of its time on the scene, fentanyl has largely remained a scourge on the East Coast and Midwest. As heroin supplies on the West Coast are mostly comprised of the notorious black tar variety, it was harder to mix in the synthetic white powder Fentanyl. Health authorities watched with concern for years for the day when the drug finally found it’s way to the West Coast. Indeed, that day seems to have arrived and opened the door for a new level of crisis.

In  San Francisco, for example, the CDC’s reporting indicates that more people have died from ODs that COVID-19. The city’s OD rate in 2019 jumped 40 percent, from 441 overdose deaths in 2019 as compared to 621 in late 2020.

Health experts are so concerned in fact, that they’ve begun to refer to this latest wave in the opioid crisis as a tsunami.

Concerns have only mounted that struggling state budgets, overwhelmed health facilities and the enduring damage from the COVID-19 pandemic will make it harder for those in need of help to access the services they seek.

There is a Solution

 At Scottsdale Providence, we believe that there is a way out from the endless, painful cycle of substance abuse and relapse. We believe that with the right help and support, people can find a way out and build lives that are happy and meaningful. We offer comprehensive, evidence-based solutions for people who are ready for a fresh start.

We have assembled a world-class team of seasoned, compassionate, and trained professionals. We bring a combined 120 years of experience in the treatment industry and have helped countless people on the road to lasting recovery. We are more than clinicians, case managers, and counselors. Each member of our team shares an abiding commitment to every client that comes through our door. At Scottsdale Providence, our work is motivated by a genuine desire to connect people with real solutions – so they can live the lives they’ve always wanted.

If you or someone you care about needs help with substance abuse disorder, mental health issues, alcoholism, or addiction, reach out.

Evidence-Based Recovery in Scottsdale

Finding the right treatment for you or your loved one’s specific needs can be challenging. Substance abuse and mental illness do not respond to a “one size fits all” approach. Scottsdale Providence provides individualized treatment designed to address issues including drug and alcohol addiction, mood disorders, trauma, and co-occurring disorders. Our goal is for every client to experience a profound change through cutting edge, evidence-based practices provided by an experienced, compassionate team, in a safe, luxurious Scottsdale environment. We know that true change is possible and sustainable.

 

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