Opioid overdoses up nearly 30% during the pandemic, study says

Emergency department visits for opioid overdoses increased 29 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to research recently published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Researchers analyzed data on nearly 190 million emergency department visits and found that from mid-April through the end of 2020, weekly rates of emergency department visits for drug overdoses increased by up to 45 percent when compared to the same period in 2019.

In December, the CDC said the rate of overdose deaths was rapidly increasing during the pandemic. The agency said this increase was driven by synthetic opioids, especially illegally manufactured fentanyl, as deaths caused by synthetic opioids rose 38 percent from the yearlong period leading up to June 2019 compared to the yearlong period leading up to May 2020. 

"The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” former CDC director Robert Redfield, MD, said in December.

Additionally, the study found that emergency department visits for mental health conditions, suicide attempts, intimate partner violence and child abuse and neglect also increased during the pandemic. 


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