Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths have occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, and 580 of these deaths were in Oregon.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are partially attributing the national upwards trend to the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that the “disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard.”
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Between January to June 2020, at least 339 people died of a drug overdose in Oregon –nearly 40% higher than the number of overdose deaths from the same period in 2019.
“Food insecurity and disruptions in access to safe housing and mental health services have compounded stress from job losses, school and social isolation, and other problems brought on by the pandemic,” said Tom Jeanne, deputy state health officer and deputy state epidemiologist, OHA Public Health Division, in a release. “The COVID crisis also interrupted ways people with substance use disorder can get help, such as mental health services, 12-step programs and ambulatory visits.”
During the second quarter of 2020, drug overdose deaths spiked. When compared to the second quarter of 2019, the number of overdose deaths increased by more than 63%.
Overdose deaths increased in April, reached a peak in May, and returned to near-monthly averages in June and July. Most overdose deaths in Oregon in 2020 have involved opioids, illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, and methamphetamines.
Although exact numbers of overdose from recent months have yet to be updated due to pending toxicology test results, early data showed a concerning increase of suspected drug overdose deaths in November.
If a person is using substances alone, the Never Use Alone Hotline (800-484-3731) can be a nonjudgmental and lifesaving point of contact for emergency services. Lines for Life and OHA have recently launched the Safe + Strong Helpline at 1-800-923-4357 (800-923-HELP). The line offers free, 24-7 emotional support and resource referral to anyone who needs it.