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Overdose Deaths on the Rise

June 9th, 2020

Tom Valentino, Senior Editor – Addiction Professional

Overdose Deaths on the Rise Again Amid COVID-19

Suspected overdose submissions to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Overdose Data Mapping Application Program from January to April this year are up 16.6% vs. the same period in 2019, according to an ODMAP report. OD Syringe

Fatal overdoses are up 11.4% over that period, and nonfatal overdoses have increased by 18.6%. The trend continued into the early part of May, with overdose cases up 8% in the first six days of the month. (The ODMAP report was published May 13.)

ODMAP data suggests the onset of the COVIDOD Deaths-19 pandemic has triggered a sharp increase in overdose cases, as the rise in overdoses in 2020 has outpaced the program’s projections based on historical data.

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed 155 overdose deaths thus far in 2020. The county had 158 overdose deaths in all of 2019.

“All those extra stressors are there,” Sara Schreiber, technical director at the medical examiner’s office said, per a report. “It’s really the perfect storm for something awful to happen.

1 in 3 Patients Say COVID-19 has Impacted Addiction Treatment

A third of respondents to a pilot study conducted by the Addiction Policy Forum reported changes or disruptions in their access to treatment or recovery support services because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 1 in 5 said they have increased their substance use since the pandemic began.

“The COVID-19 pandemic creates significant challenges for those struggling with addiction and overdose,” Jessica Hulsey, president of the Addiction Policy Forum, said in a news release. “From patients in treatment, to those in recovery to family members and caregivers, too many are struggling with disruptions in care. The data show that the presence of continuous stress and triggers and absence of coping and support mechanisms are coinciding with emotional distress. This may equate to an increase in relapses and overdoses nationwide.”

Of the respondents who reported access disruptions, 87% said they have experienced emotional changes since the start of the pandemic. The top emotions reported were: worry (62%), sadness (51%), fear (51%) and loneliness (42%). Respondents also lamented a lack of in-person 12-Step and support group meetings as a primary concern.

The survey, which had 1,079 participants, was conducted between April 27 and May 8 with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Of those surveyed, 88% were white, non-Hispanic, 66% were female, 95% were over the age of 26, and 55% were college-educated.

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