Pandemic Restrictions Contributed To More Americans Overdosing, CDC Reports

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Disruptions to care caused by the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to record-high overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2020, particularly among black Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report released Tuesday.

Overdose deaths among all Americans increased by 30% from 2019 to 2020, reaching record levels. The increase was even higher in non-white Americans, with the rate surging by 44% among black Americans and 39% among Native Americans, the CDC reported.

A disruption in the availability of healthcare and anti-overdose services caused by the pandemic likely contributed to the uptick. “The COVID-19 pandemic and disruption in access to prevention, treatment, and harm reduction services have likely contributed to this increase,” the agency said.

Disparities already existed between health outcomes for white and non-white Americans, including when it comes to overdoses. The pandemic simply exacerbated those disparities, according to the CDC. Disruptions to treatment particularly harmed low-income communities.

In addition to limiting access to places like clinics for drug addiction treatment, COVID-19 restrictions also led more Americans to use drugs to begin with due to increased mental health issues caused by social isolation and economic hardship. (RELATED: Overdose Deaths Soared In 2021, Especially In Teens)

Overdose deaths increased once again to a record high in 2021, driven in large part by Chinese-produced fentanyl being trafficked across the southern border.