The U.S. Covoid pandemic did a number on overdose deaths – 93,000 last year, to be exact, according to CDC figures released today on drug-related deaths occurring within the fifty states and Washington, D.C. during a twelve month period. On a daily basis, that works out to be 256 Americans per day. That statistic is up from 73,000 deaths in the previous year and reflects an increase of almost 30%.
Opioids are largely responsible for this spike as overdoses have increased by 450% and are held accountable for 3/4 of the overdose deaths last year. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 50 to 100 more potent than heroin or morphine and is used to treat pain. It is being pressed into pills that resemble OxyContin, Xanax, Hydrocodone as well as cut into street drugs and can prove to be deadly. No U.S. state experienced a significant decrease from 2018-2019. In fact, the percentage was the highest in New Hampshire (84.3%).
Psychostimulants such as Methamphetamine (“Meth”) increased in 2020 as did deaths from Cocaine. In 2019, the percentage of deaths from psychostimulants was highest in the West (43.5%) and lowest in the Northeast (7.9%). This is a reversal from when psychostimulants were highest in the Northeast (71%) and lowest in the West (26.4%).
In all N.E. states, fewer than 20% of drug overdose deaths involved psychostimulants. In twelve states, mostly in the West and Midwest, forty percent of overdose deaths involve psychostimulants. The percentage was highest in Hawaii (70.2%) and Oklahoma (50.7%). The percentage was lowest in Maryland (3.3%).
Suicides During The Pandemic
Although suicides were reported to decrease during the recent pandemic, a Johns Hopkins article entitled “Suicide Risk in the Covid-19 Pandemic,” by Angela Liang, Paul Nestadt S., M.D. stresses that previous pandemics such as The Spanish Flu, SARS outbreak, Ebola outbreak resulted in an increase in suicides.
Reasons for Higher Suicide Rates:
- Possible risk factors that exacerbates multiple factors that may increase suicides:
- Social distancing, social isolation.
- Economic downturn
- Online learning
- Medical treatment lessened. Frightened to go to a dr. where there is a possibility of catching the virus.
- Mental health conditions heightened
- Misusing prescription drugs and alcohol
What Does This Mean For Parents?
Long after the Pandemic abates, the problems still linger.
If your child seems depressed or worried about the coronavirus variant, have him speak to a mental health professional or join a group of like-minded individuals in person, not online. The in-person meetings are more beneficial. Hospitals are safer now, especially if you take precautions such as handwashing and mask wearing in public places so the care you have put off due to the pandemic can now be addressed with less jeopardy.
Classes that were once on lockdown are now opening up or have hybrid (combination in-class and on-line) instruction. With alcohol sales booming during the Pandemic, and illicit drugs being consumed at a higher rate, be sure that your child is able to wean himself off the substances with help.
Wesley Cullen Davidson
Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting. Currently, she is targeting her writing about recovery to parents whose children have substance abuse disorders.
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