Overdoses During COVID Hit Record High Numbers

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Overdoses During COVID Hit Record High Numbers

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives and caused thousands of deaths this year.  The impact of the virus manifests in many ways with the end result being that everyone is on alert, on edge, and in fear.  For many people, these feelings lead to an increase in their drug or alcohol use.  But, for the 20 million people who are already struggling with substance abuse issues, the number of fatal overdoses during COVID has skyrocketed.

To grasp the enormity of COVID’s effect on those with substance abuse disorders, let’s look at some statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Number of Overdoses During COVID are Record-Breaking

According to the CDC, the number of fatal overdoses in 2020 reached the highest number ever recorded.  In a 12-month period, more than 81,000 people died as a result of an overdose.  The primary factor behind this sharp increase is synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.  However, other illicit drugs were involved in the high increases as well.

For instance:

  • 38.4% increase in fentanyl-related fatal overdoses
  • 26.5% increase in cocaine-related fatal overdoses
  • 34.1% increase in meth-related fatal overdoses

Alcohol use has also increased dramatically during the pandemic.  In a report published in the JAMA, alcohol sales nationwide have increased by 54% compared to one year ago.  However, the number of alcohol-related fatal overdoses during COVID figures are currently unavailable.

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Alcohol Abuse Warnings from the CDC

The CDC issued warnings about alcohol abuse during the virus pandemic.

The warnings include the following:

  1. Alcohol will not protect you from the virus.
  2. Drinking alcoholic beverages weakens your body’s immune system thereby increasing the risk of contracting a disease.
  3. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of acute respiratory distress, pneumonia, and other lung-related diseases.
  4. Other issues such as domestic violence, depression, suicide, and child abuse are also caused by alcohol.

Although alcohol-related car accidents have declined due to the lockdowns, increased alcohol consumption will contribute to the loss of lives in other ways such as violence, injuries, and chronic health issues.

What is Being Done to Reduce Fatal Overdoses?

At state, local, and national levels, measures are underway to address the uptick in substance-related deaths during COVID-19.  These measures will also reduce overdose fatalities throughout the coming years.  Known as the Overdose Data to Action cooperative agreement, this initiative seeks to increase surveillance and prevention efforts.

Here are some of the highlights of the agreement:

  • Monitor emerging substance abuse trends and overdose deaths.
  • Work with local, tribal, and state authorities to strengthen their ability to respond to the crisis.
  • Reduce opioid abuse and provide treatment by working with treatment providers and health systems.
  • Work with public safety partners to reduce or reverse overdoses and put people into effective treatment.
  • Expand public education and awareness about the risks of opioid abuse.

The CDC’s goal is to prevent opioid overdose and has been actively seeking ways to improve tracking and understanding data related to the issue.  Furthermore, in 2019, the CDC received $475 million in funding to expand its opioid overdose prevention and surveillance efforts.

Rehabilitation Prevents Fatal Overdoses

In addition to the valiant efforts by many prevention advocates, there are people who currently need help overcoming addiction.  If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction or other substance abuse problems, contact us today.  At A Forever Recovery, we offer a unique, multi-faceted approach to treatment that is proven effective.  Our goal is to reduce the number of fatal overdoses during COVID and help you enjoy the substance-free, healthy lifestyle you want and deserve.


  • cdc.gov – Overdose Deaths Accelerating During COVID-19
  • ncbi.nlm.nih.govThe Burden of Alcohol on Healthcare During COVID-19
  • cdc.gov – CDC’s Efforts to Prevent Opioid Overdose and Other Opioid-Related Harms
  • jamanetwork.com – Changes in Adult Alcohol Use and Consequences During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the US

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