Celebrating Thanksgiving the last time, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 exceeded 267,000. The rapid rise in COVID-19 cases during the “third spike” had most country officials urging the public to take precautions. Also, pharmaceutical companies were increasingly adamant about offering a vaccine that would receive emergency FDA approval. Since 2020, governments worldwide and the media have been primarily focused on the serious nature of the global health crisis. Unfortunately, there is yet another epidemic happening at the same time in the U.S., and it’s time people are aware of its dangers. What pandemic are we talking about? Is this the start of the opioid epidemic being overshadowed?
2020 Opioid Epidemic Overshadowed By COVID-19 Pandemic
Significant attention was paid to the opioid crisis during the 2000s, with numbers from 2019 to 2020 seeing a 137% increase in deadly overdoses. Experts believe the number of drug-related deaths will continue to rise.
A perfect storm is coming together thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, and experts say there is no real reason for it but maybe loneliness. The National Institutes of Health stated loneliness has increased the chance of dangerous and deadly choices, increasing the chance for anxiety, depression and comorbidity.
With much of 2020 focused on public protection that includes social distancing, people are no doubt lonely. While the distancing measure has helped rein in the disease, it’s led to a higher rate of loneliness. It’s also believed the rise in opioid cases is due to a lack of in-person prevention and treatment services and drug supply disruptions.
Long term effects
The White House drug policy office released data that long-term COVID-19 crisis effects are spiking already. There were 11.4% more drug overdose deaths in April 2020, and compared to 2019, there were 18.6% more non-fatal overdoses. According to the latest data on drug overdose deaths, the following states have seen a rise in cases:
- Maryland – up 9.1%
- Connecticut – up 19%
- Colorado – up 28%
- Cook County, Illinois – up 28%
- Kentucky – up 30%
These are just a handful of the many states who have seen a rise in opioid-related deaths. Although you may be shocked by these numbers, it’s been a problem for quite some time now.
30 Years Of The Opioid Epidemic
The U.S. has been in the opioid epidemic’s grip for more than 30 years, with the first deaths hitting in the 1990s. It began when drug companies aggressively campaigned and encouraged doctors and other medical professionals to write prescriptions for their patients. Due to numerous false and misleading claims, the companies managed to create a storm of epic proportions.
Pharmaceutical company representatives and CEOs assured doctors that were very few health risks with their drugs, which lead to the opioid crisis. Trusting the drug companies, doctors wrote hundreds of thousands of opioid prescriptions to their patients. Before long, many U.S. communities had hundreds of people hooked and dealing with the vicious effects.
Many cities’ officials quickly experienced outbreaks, with the first opioid wave killing thousands of people in 1999. The subsequent surge occurred three years later (2002) and continued for 11 years (until 2013). There was a 286% increase in heroin-related overdoses during this time.
The death rate of age-adjusted drug overdoses doubled:
- 2000 – 6.2 people for every 100,000 people
- 2004 – 14.7 people for every 100,000 people
In 2013, a third wave involved synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl, with 63,600 people dying of a drug overdose by 2016. The drug overdose deaths for age-adjusted rate increased 21%. It’s the deadliest surge by far, with 19.8 people overdosing every 100,000 people.
Another Rise In Opioids
18 states and the District of Columbia have reported a 10% rise in opioid-related deaths. This would mean the opioid epidemic is again gaining steam. There was a 4.6% increase in drug overdoses, with roughly 71,000 deaths.
In 2018, it was reported there was a decrease in the number of opioid cases after 30 years, and the Trump Administration called it a win (temporarily), saying it was a remarkable feat and accomplishment.
Preliminary federal data confirmed it was a short reprieve, as the number of deaths in 2019 far exceeded 2017 and 2018 numbers. The number of people who die from opioid overdoses is expected to be even higher in 2020, with experts estimating over 75,000 deaths, either from drug and alcohol use or suicide.
Seek Help Now
With the 2020 pandemic, people were encouraged to social distance, and it’s no real wonder that people turned to drugs and alcohol to combat loneliness. People are fed up, and they are done, having reached their limits with the whole situation. The problem is that humans were not made to isolate from each other or face continuous anxiety and stress. We are social “animals”. While the coronavirus has gripped the entire world, the U.S.’s affliction with the opioid epidemic is not yet over. Talk to us if you feel lonely or you think you need help.