New CDC Stats: Increased Overdose Deaths During the PandemicPat Fontana
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of virtually everyone’s life. The stress of economic uncertainty, the isolation of the pandemic-related restrictions, and the fear of the virus itself have created a significant strain on people’s physical and mental health. Unfortunately, COVID challenges have also resulted in increased overdose deaths during the pandemic, according to new CDC stats.
Record Number of Overdose Deaths
In the 12-month period ending in May 2020, over 81,000 people died from drug overdose deaths, the CDC reports. This is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period in the US. The main driver of these overdose deaths appears to be synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl). The CDC states that during this period:
- 10 western states reported more than a 98 percent increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths.
- 37 of the 38 US jurisdictions with available synthetic opioid data reported increases in synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths.
- 18 of these jurisdictions reported increases greater than 50 percent.
In addition, overdose deaths involving cocaine increased by 26.5 percent. It appears that these deaths are linked to co-use or contamination of the cocaine with the illicitly manufactured fentanyl or heroin. An even higher percentage of the deaths, 34.8 percent, involved psychostimulants such as methamphetamine.
CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, states that “The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard. As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it’s important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways. We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences.”
Mental Health Concerns
Other researchers have found that concerns are growing regarding the pandemic’s long-term impact on mental health in the US. Crisis hotline use is rising. In Los Angeles, for example, calls to suicide and mental health hotlines have increased 8,000 percent during COVID-19. Projections are that, as a result of the mental health challenges, the pandemic will lead to as many as 75,000 deaths from alcohol and drug misuse and from suicide. The number of adults in the US with symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder have quadrupled since before the pandemic.
In one study conducted in mid-July, 53% of adults in the US reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, people are experiencing difficulty sleeping or eating as well as worsening chronic conditions and are increasing their consumption of alcohol. Substance use is also increasing during the pandemic. Stress and worry stemming from isolation and job loss are major contributors to these negative impacts.
An Unhealthy Response
Even during normal times, unhealthy responses to stress can include an increase in the use of drugs or alcohol, which can lead to new addictions. In particular, being isolated at home can cause an individual to struggle because of an excess of unstructured time, anxiety about visiting a healthcare provider, loss of contact with supportive friends and family, and worry about the future. A 1,000% percent increase in emotional distress has been reported to emergency hotlines during COVID-19.
As the new CDC stats show, during this time of fear and uncertainty, these issues have led to worsening situations for people with substance use disorder, leading to increased overdose deaths. A recent study also found that 13.3% of adults have reported new or increased substance use as they attempt to manage the stress of the coronavirus outbreak. The study also found that 10.7% of adults reported thoughts of suicide in the previous 30 days.
It is critically important for individuals feeling the stress and strain of the pandemic to understand how to take care of themselves mentally and physically. The CDC recommends contacting a mental health provider who can help with counseling or therapy. In addition, people with substance use disorders should seek or continue treatment, to learn healthier coping strategies during COVID-19.
Contact R&A Therapeutic Partners for Help During COVID-19
At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we offer the therapy you need to help you learn healthy living skills and to get control of your life again. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to stay safe and healthy, so we offer telehealth and in-office therapy services for your continued well-being.
Please contact the Miami therapeutic consultants Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno for help with your recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Call R&A Therapeutic Partners at 786-452-7352 to schedule your appointment.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.