By Clint Fletcher
As data from 2020 continues to pour in from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s becoming increasingly clear just how devastating the pandemic was on our country’s health. During a year that was spent mostly in lockdown, overdose deaths rose by nearly 30% from the year prior, marking the largest increase from year to year since 1999. It also marks the highest number the United States has ever recorded in a 12-month period: 93,000.
Pandemic lockdowns caused massive disruption to treatment centers and recovery meetings and added more isolation to a group of people who needed connection the most. As a result, overdose rates rose in every American state but two (New Hampshire and South Dakota), and deaths caused by opioids also rose by more than 18,000 from 2019. Deaths from almost every type of drug including fentanyl, meth, cocaine, and prescription painkillers increased. 2020 was without a doubt a hard year for those struggling with substances as indicated by the 93,000 death toll, a number that eclipses the highest numbers ever recorded in a single year for car crash deaths, gun deaths, and HIV deaths combined.
Pandemic lockdowns caused massive disruption to treatment centers and recovery meetings and added more isolation to a group of people who needed connection the most.
Long-Term Effects of Overdose
While no one can predict who will or won’t die from a single overdose or who will recover fine from multiple overdoses, we do know there are long-term negative effects for anyone who experiences an overdose. According to a US Department of Health and Human Services report, severe overdoses may temporarily stop breathing and result in toxic brain damage. Any time oxygen deprivation occurs, the chances of white matter in the brain sustaining damage increase. While there aren’t yet studies of long-term outcomes for those who survive multiple overdoses, the chances of brain injury increase every time oxygen deprivation is repeated.
During an overdose, different areas of the brain are more likely to be harmed, potentially leading to severe disability. Some other health problems an overdose could cause include:
- Short-term memory loss
- Acute amnesia
- Lack of coordination
- Nerve damage
- Loss of bodily functions
- Motor skill disturbances
Even more alarming, a study published by the National Library of Medicine compared drug overdose ICU patients to drug overdose patients who were general hospital admissions. While an overwhelming number of both types of patients suffering from psychiatric issues, the mortality rate of the ICU patients after discharge was only 10% (4-year mortality), with self-harm ultimately being the dominant cause of death. The remaining patients described the poor quality of life.
The only way to prevent an overdose before it happens is to get help. Whether it’s you or someone you love, educating yourself is key. Someone on the verge of overdose usually shows signs of serious drug use and begins acting differently for several weeks. Show you care by offering treatment options and enlisting the help of health professionals.
International Overdose Awareness Day
International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on August 31 each year to bring attention to the seriousness of drug overdose. It’s the world’s largest annual campaign with the mission to end overdose.
Events range from 5k races to educational seminars to tributes for lost loved ones. If you or someone you care about has been affected by an overdose, consider participating or hosting an event by visiting www.overdoseday.com. At the very least, you can help by spreading the word on social media.
2020 was without a doubt a hard year for those struggling with substances as indicated by the 93,000 death toll, a number that eclipses the highest numbers ever recorded in a single year for car crash deaths, gun deaths, and HIV deaths combined.
Treatment at The Claudia Black Young Adult Center
If you’re afraid that you or a loved one may overdose in the near future, it may be time to look into treatment. The Claudia Black Young Adult Center at The Meadows continues to help young adults struggling with addiction and mental health issues that come along with it. Our team can help you build a road map to the life that you want. Please reach out to us any time to speak with an intake specialist.