The coronavirus pandemic may be exacerbating the drug abuse epidemic in the U.S., according to a report released on Tuesday by the Associated Press.
The AP says that May was the deadliest month for overdoses in the state of Kentucky for the past five years with nearly as many deaths in that one month as the state had seen in the entire preceding year. National trends reportedly indicate that overdose deaths are on track to reach record highs this year.
Pressures that have come with the pandemic such as job loss, disrupted treatments and isolation are all believed to be factors in the spike.
“It’s not the same as being in a place with that depth of connection that we have from in-person engagement, because connectedness is one of the drivers of recovery,” Robert Pack, an addiction researcher at East Tennessee State University, told the AP.
Last year 71,000 U.S. deaths due to overdose were reported, the deadliest year yet, and the numbers this year are expected to far exceed that. Some 74,000 deaths were recorded between April 2019 and March 2020, significantly higher than the 68,000 deaths reported in the same period a year earlier.
While it is not known which drugs are contributing most to the overdoses this year, fentanyl and methamphetamine are considered the most common, and the deterioration of the illegal drug supply may actually be contributing to the overdoses as well with the chances of using a poisonous substance rising.