The Impact COVID 19 Pandemic has had on the National Overdose Crisis
Like the pandemic rise, opioid overdoses have risen from 29% to over 40% from the beginning of the COVID crisis. I have been doing a lot of reading and data mining to determine if the social distancing has impacted the current national overdose epidemic. In a non-addicted afflicted person's life, the stressors of losing a job or income; not being able to apply normalized socialization; and limited service hours/treatment impacted by COVID, has shown that long-term consequences will prevail. Someone battling an addiction does not have the luxury of a "long-term" waiting period. He/she needs help now.
So in my search to continue to find issues and data, I found this page called Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP). Arizona has three counties that participate in reporting real-time overdoses (Maricopa, Pima and Pinal). ODMAP is the only national surveillance platform used to collect data of both fatal and non-fatal suspected overdoses.
Unfortunately, not all states and their corresponding counties participate in ODMAP; therefore, data cannot be completely accurate as there are missing numbers and factors. However, the CDC is working with states, territories, and cities and counties across the country to continue surveillance and prevention efforts. These efforts are to help inform and to sustain decreases and prevent continued increases through Overdose Data to Action, a 3-year cooperative agreement through which CDC funds health departments in 47 states, Washington, DC, two territories, and 16 cities and counties for surveillance and prevention efforts.
From what data has been gathered by ODMAP, there has been a significant impact on overdoses during the COVID 19 pandemic. The analysis shows the following:
·After March 19, 2020, 61.84 percent of participating counties experienced an increase in overdose submissions.
· There was a 17.59 percent increase in suspected overdose submissions when comparing the weeks prior to and following the commencement of state-mandated stay-at-home orders.
· Detected overdose clusters have shifted from traditional centralized, urban locations to adjacent and surrounding suburban and rural areas; and
· The number of spike alerts and the duration of overdose spikes have increased nationally.
My son's death contributed to the death toll...and unfortunately I have witnessed many other young deaths due to the opioid epidemic. What efforts are we doing now? What can we do to help combat this and find opportunities? It seems to me that until we get all appropriate entities involved to review the overall picture, especially the health insurance companies and wrap-around services, seek more funding to create fundamental resources, and most importantly to understand that there are two national pandemics going on, the drug addiction epidemic was occurring way before COVID 19, then and only then can we collaboratively work together to find those solutions in helping those continuing to struggle with their disease, create rapid-response strategies, enhance public health, awareness and public safety partnerships and expand initial successes in reducing opioid-involved overdose deaths.
Think about your stressors and comparatively imagine someone who is struggling with an addiction...change needs to happen...now!
Causes of Death in the United States | Drug War Facts
Report finds Arizona opioid epidemic funding and death rate increased (kold.com)
Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program - (odmap.org); ODMAP-Report-June-2020.pdf
Health officials report increases in drug overdoses, suicides during COVID-19 pandemic | Cronkite News - Arizona PBS (azpbs.org)