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The Opioid Epidemic During the COVID-19 Pandemic

 Original author: SUBOXONE      
The COVID-19 crisis is impacting nearly every aspect of daily life — and for people who struggle with opioid use disorder (OUD), the pandemic presents serious hardship. 40 states are reporting increases in opioid use, including overdose deaths, emergency room visits, and requests for addiction treatment. 1

OUD affects over 2 million people in the United States alone, and opioid misuse often leads to long-term health problems and overdose deaths. 2  During the COVID-19 pandemic, people who struggle with OUD are experiencing difficulty seeking treatment, accessing their regular support systems, and supporting themselves and their families.

While many people may be turning to opioids to cope with COVID-related stress, these overdose deaths are preventable.

While many people may be turning to opioids to cope with COVID-related stress, these overdose deaths are preventable.


The Rise of Opioid use during covid-19

Across the United States, experts and drug safety advocates are seeing increases in opioid use, overdose, and relapse. In particular, drug overdose deaths increased over 11% in the first four months of 2020 alone. 3

Many organizations are witnessing the effects of this trend. Millennium Health, a national laboratory service that processes drug tests for American companies, saw a 32% increase in samples testing positive for fentanyl. 1 In the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area, overdose prevention advocates saw a nearly 62% increase in overdoses after state governments imposed stay-at-home orders. 4

Stressful life events, like the ones that COVID-19 is causing, are common triggers for drug addiction and relapse. 5 Stay-at-home orders are also preventing patients from seeking treatment and obtaining medication, which can exacerbate existing OUD. Drug use also increases during economic recessions, and the pandemic saw record-high unemployment rates. 6

The bottom line is that people with OUD are facing unique challenges during this time, which may contribute to overdose and death. If you or a loved one are struggling with OUD during COVID-19, seek professional help immediately.


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