COVID-19 And It's Effects On Overdose Rates

January 12th, 2021

As we begin a new year, we also approach the anniversary of nearly one full year of COVID-19 in the United States. Many of us recall March 2020 as a time of fear and uncertainty. Looking back, it is pretty crazy to think how far we have come in one short year. Many of us took this time in quarantine to look inward and focus on ourselves. However, many of us also had quite a few struggles along the way.

Quarantine has been quite an added challenge for those who are in the sober community – especially those who are newly sober. To be required to stay at home and be left to your own devices can be incredibly challenging for an addict. Routine is something that is so important in the recovery process and to have that completely thrown off can be an incredible challenge. 

Our nation was already facing an opioid and overdose epidemic, so adding a global pandemic on top of that only made matters worse. The Director of the National Institutes of Health has said, “We do not yet have nationwide data that capture the full impact of COVID-19 and its related societal effects on overdose deaths, but some indicators show troubling increases associated with it.”

Some facts that we do have include:

  • The CDC provisional drug overdose death count shows an increase in overdose deaths
  • The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program data shows a 17.59% increase in suspected overdoses following the start of stay-at-home orders
  • A study of the National Emergency Medical Services Information System showed an increase in the initial months of the pandemic in overdose deaths. As of yet, the overall 2020 numbers were elevated by approximately 50%.

In addition to overdose numbers being on the rise in 2020, so have alcohol and cannabis sales nationwide. With all of the effects of the pandemic, such as a feeling of isolation, financial woes, and loaded stress, many people look to instant gratification and an escape from the reality. It is imagined that all of these factors are what caused an increase of 13.3% of people using substances to cope with stress or emotions.

When it comes to treating addiction during the pandemic, this has come with its own sets of challenges too. Many individuals who are ready to seek help or are in need have or had a fear of getting help during quarantine for fear of getting sick. There were new policies put in place both in treatment centers and nationwide. Federal agencies even implemented policies that helped increase access to take-home doses of medication used to treat opioid use disorder and helped to expand telehealth access for addiction treatment. Even Alcoholics Anonymous meetings shifted to being completely remote. As we move closer to the end of this pandemic, many agencies are continuing to evaluate how we can change and improve upon remote addiction treatment long past the end.

Heading into 2021, as we approach what will hopefully be an end to the COVID-19 crisis, it is important to take this time to reflect. Remind yourself of the growth you have experienced over the past year. Think of the ways you could improve or grow as we head into a new year and a clean slate.

On the flip side, there are many people who may have discovered, either themselves or through a loved one, a new addiction. If you or a loved one are in need of help, reach out to our team today. It is never easy to admit that we need help, but the team at Windmill Wellness Ranch is here to support you every step of the way on your path to recovery.