According to a report published Thursday by the Oregon Health Authority, the state experienced a 70% increase in opioid-related deaths in the months of April and May 2020.
This spring saw more deaths from opioid overdose, but data is unclear as to what role the coronavirus pandemic has played in the issue.
“Until more data become available, it is premature to say how much of the spike in overdose deaths is attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tom Jeanne, Deputy State Health Officer and Deputy State Epidemiologist at the Public Health Division. “However, the realization that we will be dealing with COVID-19 for some time, and other stressors related to jobs, school and social isolation, may increase feelings of anxiety and depression, and that can lead to a harmful level of alcohol or other drug use.”
In Q1 of 2020, health authorities saw a spike of 8% in overdose deaths in Oregon compared to Q1 of 2019.
Additionally, the OHA report mentions that “between April and May 2020 there was a 28% increase in overdose deaths, and a more than 15% increase in overdose deaths between March and April. And opioid-involved deaths accounted for almost 73% of total overdose deaths in May 2020.”
“Of opioid-involved deaths, the data show, fentanyl and heroin continue to be the drugs most frequently involved, and fentanyl-involved deaths accounted for almost 40% of total overdose deaths in May 2020,” the report continued. “The analysis also uncovered a continuing alarming trend in methamphetamine use: Methamphetamine/amphetamine-
For more information on the help available for addiction in Oregon, see the Prevention and Wellness page of the Oregon Public Health website.