Social Isolation, unemployment, and disruption in normal supply lines of illegal drugs have forced addicts to seek new dealers and try unfamiliar substances. The closure along the Mexico/U.S. border has disrupted illegal supply lines; however, it is still difficult to believe that drug cartels stop finding ways to smuggle drugs into the country. Although, a United Nations report from the Office on Drugs and Crime issued a statement stating the virus has changed the route of illicit drug flows. However, this is the same organization that told us not to worry about the new coronavirus back in January. Overall, everything that has occurred has caused a cascading effect resulting in an increased number of drug-related overdoses—not all fatal.
Information released in an Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program indicated overdoses had increased significantly when compared to the same time in 2019. Since the first reported cases of COVID-19, overdoses have increased, on average, 20%. In March of 2020, it was an 18% increase when compared to March of 2019. In April of 2020, it was 29% over April of 2019 and a 42% increase in May of 2020. For every ten suspected overdoses reported in May of 2019, there were 14 overdoses reported in May of 2020. Overdoses increased to 42% per month during the pandemic as compared to the same time in 2019.
The forced government lockdowns have caused many treatment centers, drug courts, and recovery programs to close or scale back services. Social distancing has sequestered people leaving them to use drugs alone and not being able to get treatment or overdose intervention. Even before the pandemic, many experts felt the nation’s infrastructure for helping with addiction was underfunded and inadequate. The pandemic and the heavy-handed intervention from elected officials caused a domino effect that is continuing. Treatment providers across the nation have their work cut out for them, and it has come down to save as many as you can.