Nonfatal Opioid Overdoses Rose During COVID-19 Pandemic, Report Suggests
Data from an emergency department in Richmond suggests that the number of nonfatal opioid-related overdoses may have risen during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among people who are Black. Thefindings were published inJAMA.Taylor A. Ochalek, Ph.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and colleagues compared the number of nonfatal opioid overdoses recorded in electronic medical records from VCU ’s Emergency Department from March to June 2019 with those that occurred from March to June 2020—the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. They found nonfatal opioid overdoses increased from 102 between March and June 2019 to 227 between March and June 2020. The increase in nonfatal opioid overdose visits occurred at the same time that the emergency department experienced a significant decline in the total number of emergency department visits, the authors reported.“This data is from the Richmond area, but it confirms what we’re hearing anecdotally from across the U.S.,” F. Gerard Moeller, M.D., director of the Wright Center and director of the VCU Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, said in apress release. “The pandemic is more than a crisis of one disease. Its ripple effects will be felt for some time in the form of secondary health impacts like addiction.”Further analysis of patient characteristics of those who experienced a nonfatal opioid overdose during the three-month period in 2019 versus the t...
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Deaths involving illicit opioids, stimulants (such as methamphetamine), heroin, and cocaine rose dramatically between 2015 and the end of 2019, according to areport released Monday by the AMA ’s Opioid Task Force.The report also showed a 37.1% decrease in opioid prescribing; wider use of state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs; and increasing numbers of doctors trained to prescribe buprenorphine (a medication used for treating opioid use disorder).The trends indicate that the nature of the nation ’s drug overdose crisis has changed. “The nation’s drug overdose epidemic is now being driven predom...