Well before the COVID-19 virus reached pandemic proportions, opioid abuse and related overdoses and deaths had been declared an epidemic in the United States. However, thanks to factors such as social isolation, economic instability, fear over disease, and reduced access to health resources, drug overdoses have reached historic levels over the past 2 years—to the point that more than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses over the 12-month period ending in April 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a 28.5% increase over the same period just 1 year before. While deaths due to prescription drugs and illicitly obtained synthetic opioids like fentanyl did increase over that period, so did fatalities linked to psychostimulants and cocaine. Even more concerning is the fact that substance abuse tends to increase over the winter holiday season. Given that many patients may find it difficult to access addiction centers at this time, it’s possible that urgent care could wind up being their saving grace. JUCM has addressed this issue from an urgent care perspective. You can read The Potential Role of Urgent Care in Addressing the Opiate Epidemic in our archive right now.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Exacerbated the Opioid Epidemic—and It’s About to Get Worse