When A Pandemic Emerges In The Midst Of An Epidemic

By Carly Illeck

When A Pandemic Emerges In The Midst Of An Epidemic

Information in the following blog post was acquired from the article: The Opioid Epidemic During the COVID-19 Pandemic. and The Escalation of the Opioid Epidemic Due to COVID-19 and Resulting Lessons About Treatment Alternatives

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-The Opioid Epidemic existed far before the COVID Pandemic, is persisting throughout the pandemic, and it's lifespan will far surpass that of the pandemic. However, even before our world was taken by the COVID storm, media coverage and attention to the Opioid Crisis have been subpar at best. 

-The hypothesis that the US COVID-19 epidemic has been accompanied by an increase in substance use with important consequences (fatal and nonfatal overdose), has been proven true by researchers. 

-Drug overdose deaths in the US increased in 2019, despite a slight decrease from 2017 to 2018; this increase was largely driven by illicitly manufactured fentanyl. The opioid epidemic has also been complicated by increasing use of methamphetamine in combination with opioids.

-It is likely that the emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and subsequent disruptions in health care and social safety nets combined with social and economic stressors will further fuel the opioid epidemic.

-Reports from national, state, and local media suggest that opioid-related overdoses are increasing.

Why COVID Has Had A Direct Impact On The Opioid Epidemic

COVID-19—related protective shelter-in-place orders have pushed individuals battling sobriety into isolation and have decreased access to treatment and opportunity for distraction from addictions.

- When facing an overdose, the person overdosing can have that overdose 'reversed' by a drug called Narcan. Due to closures of hospitals and the focus of health workers being focal around COVID-19, less individuals are able to receive proper treatment. 

-Valuable insights learned from factors related to social distancing that are worsening the opioid epidemic point to opportunities to combat the problem via novel treatment approaches to effect change that invest in the antithesis of social distancing.

-  If social distancing bolsters the opioid epidemic, the opposite behaviors strengthen our attack on it: emotional resiliency building, stress reduction techniques, health education, facilitated human connection via group treatment (when epidemiologically safe), abundant access to classic opioid alternatives like buprenorphine, integrated interdisciplinary modalities, and promotion of appropriate and sustainable physical activity.



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