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Substance Abuse and Overdose Deaths Are on the Rise

Substance Abuse and Overdose Deaths Are on the Rise

The United States has been battling an opioid epidemic for many years.  But, since the beginning of the virus pandemic, substance abuse and overdose deaths have increased significantly.  

According to the CDC

“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard.  As we continue the fight to end this pandemic it’s important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways.  We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences.”

As the virus continues to place further restrictions on our lives, more people are likely to succumb to the dangers of substance use.

What’s Causing the Increases in Substance Abuse and Overdose Deaths?

The virus pandemic exacerbated the opioid crisis in several ways.  As people struggle to cope with fear and anxiety during the lockdowns, many turn to drugs or alcohol for solace.  

Some people began using alcohol, prescription anti-anxiety meds, or antidepressants for the first time during the pandemic.  All of these substances can be highly addictive and dangerous if abused or used in combination with each other.  

Others turned to street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth, or others.  Unfortunately, many street drugs are laced with fentanyl, but drug dealers don’t reveal that information.  So, the individuals who buy those drugs are often unaware of the deception.  If they don’t already have a tolerance for opioids, they can easily overdose on fentanyl-enhanced street drugs.

Another contributing factor in the increased substance abuse and overdose deaths is the shortage of professional treatment programs.  As a result of the pandemic, many treatment providers closed their facilities or had to limit their services.  

Also, individuals who are in recovery found that their support system has been disrupted.  They can no longer attend in-person group counseling sessions or self-help programs due to the lockdowns.  Many of those venues were forced to close in response to social distancing mandates.  Without their much-needed support, many of these individuals relapse.

Furthermore, many people who want or need treatment are afraid to expose themselves to the risks of group settings such as a rehab facility.  According to the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, some members saw their patient numbers decrease by 40% or more.  

These situations have led to many relapses, overdoses, and deaths since the pandemic began.  

Shocking Statistics Reveal a Deadly Trend

Since the pandemic began, overdose deaths are up by more than 20,000 deaths compared to those recorded in 2019.  The total number of fatal overdoses recorded in 2020 reached 93,331.  Opioid-related deaths played a large role in these numbers.  Here’s a breakdown of the increases, according to CDC data:

  • Deaths attributed to synthetic opioids increased by 54%.
  • Overdose deaths related to cocaine increased 21%.
  • Fatal overdoses attributed to meth and other psychostimulants rose by 46%.

These increases span across all demographic groups.

The primary driver of the increased fatal overdoses is illicitly manufactured opioids such as fentanyl.  

What Can be Done to Reduce Overdoses and Deaths?

Measures are being taken on local, state, and national levels to address the substance abuse and overdose death rates.  The CDC is working with first responders, public health professionals, and harm reduction organizations, and community leaders to expand response and prevention resources.  

Their agenda includes some of the following actions and recommendations in their Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) Plan:

  • Expand overdose prevention education to empower individuals to make informed decisions.
  • Increase availability and distribution of naloxone.
  • Improve detection of outbreaks to facilitate an effective response.
  • Increase availability of and access to substance abuse treatment programs.
  • Provide early intervention for high-risk individuals.

Across the nation, thousands of prevention and education advocates work tirelessly to save lives from the devastation substance abuse brings.   But, there’s much more that needs to be done to resolve the overdose crisis.  

When addiction happens, the best recourse is professional treatment.  Most people who try to quit on their own will relapse.  In some cases, fatal overdose is the outcome.   So, it’s never a good idea to try the cold-turkey approach.  A person who is trying to overcome substance abuse needs a combination of physical and emotional therapy to effectively rid their mind and body of the addiction.  

Cycles of Change Recovery: Where You’ll Learn to Live Drug-Free

Learning to live drug-free involves first ridding your body of the physical dependence on a drug.  This is known as detox, and many people think it is a cure for addiction. The truth is, there is no “cure” for substance abuse.  It requires determination and a lifelong commitment.  Therefore, you’ll need therapy and counseling to address the emotional and mental issues that played a role in your drug use.  This combination of treatment methods ensures that you are equipped to maintain sobriety after leaving our facility.  

At Cycles of Change Recovery, we will help you identify the underlying reasons for your substance abuse.  With this knowledge, you’ll be prepared to make the changes in your life that will keep you focused on your recovery goals.  

With our individualized approach to treatment, you’ll regain the confidence and self-esteem that was damaged by drug abuse.  You’ll also learn practical coping skills to help you stand strong when temptations arise.

Are you ready to claim your freedom from addiction?  If so, learn more about our program by contacting our Palmdale, CA facility today.  


  • cdc.gov/ – Overdose Deaths Accelerating During COVID-19
  • cdc.gov/ – Overdose Data to Action

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