Overdose surge mirrors coronavirus pandemic

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Experts say addiction triggers compounded by stay-at-home orders and a disruption of support networks are just two contributing factors. NBC's Sarah Dallof reports.

(NBC News) — As coronavirus cases climb in the United States, so are overdoses.

In Wisconsin, overdose deaths have more than doubled during the pandemic, one Kentucky county is struggling with a surge in cases tied to a new synthetic drug mix, and in Jacksonville, Florida overdose calls are up 40-percent.

One foundation is offering virtual training on how to use emergency medication. 

The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, or ODMAP, tracks fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

Since mid-March, more than 60-percent of participating counties started have reported increases.

“Once we saw that, we said ‘Okay, what happened during this time frame other than COVID?’ and that was stay-at-home orders,” says ODMAP’s Aliese Alter.

Health experts say those orders brought along triggers for relapse: isolation, job losses and support network reductions.

The pandemic also altered supply chains, leading some to seek new suppliers or substances.

A recent American Medical Association report reveals opioid prescriptions are actually down, while drug deaths are up.

“Most overdoses now are related to illicit manufactured fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine,” says the AMA’s Dr. Patrice Harris.

The AMA is urging government officials to relax barriers to treatment.

“We are asking every state to look inward, look at any policies and procedures that may be negatively impacting the ability of folks who have a substance abuse problem to get the care they need,” Dr. Harris says. 

Read more: https://bit.ly/30Yut7d

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