When COVID-19 first became a topic of discussion in late 2019, most people brushed it off. After all, there have been several viruses and outbreaks that were purported to be a bigger problem than they turned out to be. For a few months, things went on as normal, but cases continued to soar. Fast forward to March 2020, when the nation practically shut down to try to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Initially, people weren’t concerned or stressed because it was still being made out as “not a big deal” by most sources. Plus, until it showed up in the United States, it didn’t seem close enough to home to matter to most. By mid-May, however, overdoses had risen by 18% and overdose deaths increased by over 11% from January to April of 2020, when compared to the first four months of 2019.
The Stress & Uncertainty
Part of the problem is the stress and uncertainty that goes along with something like a public health crisis. People are being told to stay home, stay isolated, and protect themselves at all costs. The seriousness and outlook are changing daily and it can be hard for anyone to keep up. People are losing their jobs, their homes, and their pride, in many cases. It’s a struggle for any human, let alone someone who already deals with substance abuse issues.
The other reason that overdoses and deaths are increasing during the pandemic is that the drug supply chain has been interrupted. Not only are people using more drugs during this time, but they’re trying new ones, taking unknown substances, and putting their lives at even more risk. Plus, since the pandemic encourages isolation, more people are overdosing alone with no one to call for help, which means more deaths are occurring as a result.
The coronavirus pandemic has created stress, uncertainty, and fear for the entire world. People who struggle with substance abuse disorders already have difficulty handling these types of feelings in the first place. When you compound that with the pandemic, the drug supply chain issues, and all of the other factors, it’s a recipe for certain disaster.
Doing Everything They Can
Fortunately, experts are on top of the situation and are doing everything in their power to address the issues and change the conversation. New resources, online support, and reimagined treatment centers are all helping people stay (or get back) on track so that they don’t become another statistic.