#Roommates, 2020 was a truly rough year for most people around the world and in the U.S., the stress and seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic reportedly aligned with an alarming increase in drug deaths. A new government report was recently released confirming that in 2020, there were reportedly 93,000 overdose deaths in the U.S., which set a shocking new record.
According to Brandon Marshall, a health researcher at Brown University specializing in overdose trends, nationwide drug overdose deaths rose to a record-high of 93,000 as the COVID-19 pandemic was crippling the world, @HuffPost reports.
That translates to a staggering 29% increase from the previous year of 2019, when the estimated overdose deaths were 72,000. “This is a staggering loss of human life. The nation was already struggling with its worst overdose epidemic but clearly, COVID has greatly exacerbated the crisis,” Marshall stated.
Drug and health experts say that the universal lockdowns and other pandemic-related restrictions made it extremely difficult for those who needed drug treatment to receive it—and that the ongoing isolation made drug addictions worse. The drugs responsible for the current U.S. overdose rates are led by heroin and the opioid fentanyl, which was initially used to treat diseases like cancer, but has been used in recent years as a street drug often mixed with other substances. The CDC reviewed death certificates for 2020 and estimated that the overdose deaths equaled to an average of more than 250 deaths each day, or roughly 11 every hour.
Shannon Monnat, Associate Professor of Sociology at Syracuse University, explained that drug contamination is the main reason why so many are dying from the drugs they take. “What’s really driving the surge in overdoses is this increasingly poisoned drug supply. Nearly all of this increase is fentanyl contamination in some way. Heroin is contaminated. Cocaine is contaminated. Methamphetamine is contaminated,” she said.
Monnat also noted that her research determined that pandemic issues such as evictions, job security, and financial stress also contributed to the reliance on drugs to cope.
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