The Epidemic Within the Pandemic: Increasing Overdose Deaths

Disease, Threats

The Epidemic Within the Pandemic: Increasing Overdose Deaths

When the COVID-19 crisis began, experts expressed concern that rates of substance abuse and overdose cases could increase due to the circumstances of the pandemic. In addition to the anticipated increase in substance abuse as a coping response to the psychological stress related to the pandemic, experts pointed to potentially exacerbating factors such as increased social isolation, financial distress, and disruptions in treatment access.1

Accumulating evidence indicates that those early concerns were well-founded. For the 12-month period ending in May 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 81,000 drug overdose deaths — the most ever recorded in a 12-month period in the United States.2

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