The COVID-19 pandemic fuels drug overdoses in the US

Updated: Jan 24


The chaos created by the COVID-19 pandemic has further fueled the silent killer: drug overdoses. An epidemic we have faced for years, drug overdoses are estimated to kill an exceptionally high number of Americans in a single year, surpassing the toll of gun violence and car accidents combined.


Unofficial CDC calculations estimate that approximately 100,300 Americans died of drug overdoses from May 2020 to April 2021, accounting for greater than a 30% rise in overdose-related deaths in the last year. While this epidemic impacts the entire country, the states with the highest death toll increase from overdose include Vermont (70%), West Virginia (62%), and Kentucky (55%).


Among many reasons contributing to this surge in overdoses, experts believe social isolation and the lack of accessible treatment and other resources induced by the pandemic are the primary contributors to these exceptionally high death rates. Additionally, drug dealers exploit these conditions to adulterate fentanyl with other drugs, contributing to increased deaths from methamphetamines and cocaine.


Several studies among drug users have demonstrated a higher prevalence of comorbidities, increased risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and breakthrough infection, and a higher likelihood of getting severe disease requiring hospitalization or resulting in death. Considering this, experts worry that this epidemic will only get worse if public health authorities do not take proper and prompt action.


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