The opioid epidemic is reportedly raging even more during the new reality of COVID-19. Overdoses are increasing all over the United States. Many of these overdoses involve opioids and, most commonly, fentanyl.
Overdose Uptick During COVID-19
There are many causes of overdoses. For one thing, people are using their drug of choice alone, and there is no one to call for help or use Narcan if they overdose. Another reason is that people are relapsing from treatment centers. When people relapse on drugs, they often assume they have the same tolerance as before and accidentally overdose.
Another reason, however, is grimmer. People aren’t able to find drugs from their usual dealers. And many street drugs are still be tainted or spiked with fentanyl, a drug that can be 50-100 times more potent than morphine.
Why Is Fentanyl Still So Common?
Fentanyl is abused, no doubt, by people who have considerable tolerance for opioids. People use it after using other drugs like Oxycontin or even heroin. Other drug users must beware that it’s a drug potent enough to kill them if they’ve never done it before. When it’s added to street drugs, it is undetectable by sight or smell. Some local health departments give out fentanyl test strips and some companies also sell them online.
Right now, law enforcement is increasingly coming across pills purported to be one drug – such as Oxycontin – and really, it’s a dose of fentanyl. At other times, people think they’re getting a drug such as Xanax or heroin, and instead, they accidentally take a pill with both drugs.
In Trumbull County, Ohio, it’s killing people, and in other counties, it’s been a factor in almost every deadly overdose. “You can’t see, taste or smell fentanyl, and there is no ‘safe’ drug use,” April Caraway, Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board executive director, told Tribune Chronicle.
Addiction is Surging During Coronavirus
While many in the media have been tracking the COVID-19 case surges, addiction is increasing. Not only are fentanyl overdoses becoming more frequent, but people are also abusing other drugs more often as well. Studies have shown that there is a shark uptick in drinking behavior as well.
People who use substances are more vulnerable to overdoses and COVID-19. Opioids can cause a person to stop breathing, and an opioid user’s lungs may already be impaired if they are exposed to the virus.