Drug overdose deaths set national records during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a record 81,230 overdose deaths were reported for the year ending in May 2020, which was an 18-percent increase over May 2019. This was the third consecutive month in which deaths increased significantly over the previous 12 months.
Opioid-related deaths were the most significant factor in the rise, with a 38 percent increase in the year ending June 2020, though cocaine-related deaths also jumped by more than 26 percent—a factor the CDC contributed to use with opioids. Psychostimulants such as methamphetamines also factored, with a nearly 35 percent increase in deaths for the year as part of a trend in which the rate of methamphetamine fatalities had more than a fivefold increase from 2011-2018.
“While these statistics are shocking, they aren’t surprising,” said Rosecrance Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Wright. “People haven’t been able to gather together to receive the social support they need, and that has left many feeling isolated. As a result, substance use has become an epidemic within the COVID-19 pandemic that is greatly impacting the lives of so many in our communities.”
Illinois mirrored the national trends. The state saw a 27 percent increase in overdose deaths and a slow rise in methamphetamine deaths.
Throughout the pandemic, Rosecrance has continued to be a place for those with substance use and mental health disorders. Thanks to increased infection controls and expanded use of telehealth, people have been able to receive help they need through the means most comfortable for them in residential or outpatient settings.
“We know life is a struggle for many people, and that is why Rosecrance has taken every effort to provide a safe, environment for anyone who seeks treatment,” Wright said. “We urge anyone who thinks they or a loved one might need help to reach out. They will discover a caring community that will walk with them through treatment and every step of the recovery journey.”