In the mid 2010s, an innocent age without a pandemic, opioid overdose was, and was widely seen as, the greatest public health threat in the United States. This involved both the abuse of prescription pain killers and the illegal manufacture of drugs such as fentanyl. In the period 2017-189, there was a modest reduction in the extent of opioid addiction in the country. But now the opioid crisis is back in full force, and the Covid-19 pandemic helped bring it back.
A group of health researchers in Pennsylvania recently released a study about opioid abuse in that state during 2020 and the early months of 2021. It found that a pandemic-driven combination of economic hardship, social isolation and the disruption of support services has been disastrous.
The survey’s interviewees said that people in the early stages of treatment or recovery from opioid addiction may be particularly vulnerable to relapse. One said: “They might be working in industries that are closed down, so they have financial problems … [and] they have their addiction issues on top of that, and now they can’t like go to meetings, and they can’t make those connections.”
In Pill Form:
The survey found an “acceleration of overdoses within some of the populations most affected by opioids prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.” This was true of both fatal and non-fatal overdoses, of both men and women, for whites and blacks, and across age groups. It was especially so for users in their 30s and 40s.