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The Opioid Epidemic During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Opioid Epidemic During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. opioid epidemic can be defined as the spike in widespread opioid abuse, addiction, and overdoses.

The latest wave of the opioid epidemic began in the late 1990s and was caused by an increase in prescriptions by healthcare providers.The latest wave of the opioid epidemic began in the late 1990s and was caused by an increase in prescriptions by healthcare providers. Despite pharmaceutical companies’ claims that these prescription drugs were entirely safe, the medical community soon discovered how opioids affect the brain and their high potential for abuse. Years later, the U.S. has seen a spike in opioid abuse as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Our drug and alcohol treatment center in Illinois offers a variety of addiction treatment programs that can help addicts get sober. Many have fallen victim to substance abuse as a result of COVID-19, so our doors are open to everyone in need.

How Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Affected the Opioid Epidemic?

Statistics on the opioid epidemic have pointed to an increase in opioid abuse in response to COVID-19. Despite the slight decrease in opioid abuse between 2017 and 2018, the U.S. saw a rapid incline in abuse in 2019. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 19,416 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. within the first three months of 2020 compared to the 16,682 that died within the same period in 2019. The illegal trafficking and distribution of fentanyl largely contributed to this incline, but there were also a variety of other factors as well.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to more than just health concerns. Many people have lost their jobs and homes as a result of the pandemic. The anxiety of contracting the coronavirus adds to the stress of being out of a job or having to work from home while managing other responsibilities. Those with children have also had to create a game plan to ensure they’re taken care of. While people who never struggled with drinking or drugs may manage these struggles more efficiently, how has COVID-19 affected the opioid epidemic and people who are struggling with opioid addiction?

One of the most common problems people have had to face during the coronavirus pandemic is unemployment. Unemployment is a common contributing factor to addiction, and the opioid epidemic during COVID-19 has worsened largely because of this problem. According to the Congregational Research Service, every state and the District of Columbia reached unemployment rates higher in the month of April 2020 than their peak unemployment rates during the Great Recession. People struggling to take care of homes and families during the pandemic may turn to opioid abuse as a way to cope, and those recovering from opioid addiction may relapse under the stress of COVID.

Before particular health regulations were set in place, mandatory quarantine made it difficult for some to receive medical treatment. For a short while, essential clinics and businesses were closed, putting a hold on any help opioid addicts were receiving. Fortunately, these facilities were re-opened and safety precautions were mandated. Banyan Chicago is a rehab facility that offers effective opiate addiction treatment that can help those struggling with this substance abuse disorder.

What’s Being Done to Help?

Government officials have made substantial efforts in hopes of eliminating the opioid epidemic during COVID-19. Aside from making addiction treatment programs more accessible to those with drug or alcohol abuse problems, opioid overdose treatments like naloxone are being made more accessible to users and their families. Health care facilities have also begun to incorporate telemedicine, which allows patients to receive virtual medical treatment via video call. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration have also made medications like buprenorphine and methadone more accessible to those in opioid addiction recovery. Virtual or online support meetings have also been implemented to keep recovering addicts connected amid the pandemic restrictions. Even though we’re still coping with the opioid epidemic during COVID-19, government officials have implemented helpful methods that can make a difference.

If you or a loved one is battling a substance abuse disorder, call Banyan Treatment Centers Chicago today at 888-280-4763 for more information about our unique programs and therapies.


NIH - Vital Signs: Characteristics of Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids and Stimulants - 24 States and the District of Columbia, January-June 2019

CDC - Percent of drug overdose deaths by quarter and demographic characteristics: United States 2018-Q1 through 2020-Q1

FAS - Unemployment Rates During the COVID-19 Pandemic: In Brief

Related Reading: 

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Connection Between Heroin and Opioid Pain Pills

The Effects of Snorting Heroin

Celebrities Who Were Addicted to Painkillers

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
The Opioid Epidemic During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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