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Columbus drug overdose and COVID-19

City view of Columbus

Addiction has ravaged the state of Ohio, including the Columbus metropolitan area. Nationwide, overdose deaths finally began to decline in 2018 after years of steady growth and great efforts by public health officials and private organizations.1 Unfortunately, this was not the case in Franklin County, home of Metro Columbus.

Columbus drug overdoses before the pandemic

While the state may have made some progress, the Columbus area was still struggling. For several years, the number of accidental drug overdose deaths in Franklin County continued to rise.

From 2012 to 2019, the county saw an increase from 191 deaths to 547 deaths per year.1 This coincides with the alarming increase of 584% of the population who died from accidental overdose between 2003 and 2017.2 Unsurprisingly, a large majority of these overdoses were from opioids as the opioid epidemic continues in Columbus.

The Effects of COVID-19 on Columbus Overdoses

While 2020 could have been a good turning point, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. Businesses were forced to close their doors, lockdowns were put in place, and people were encouraged to stay at home. As a result, the number of drug overdoses in Columbus increased dramatically during the pandemic, rather than possibly making some progress.

From January 2020 to June 2020, the number of overdose deaths in Franklin County rose nearly 75% over the same period in 2019. Overall, May was also the deadliest month recorded for drug overdoses in Ohio.3 While the death toll from a pandemic drug overdose in Columbus and the state may have peaked earlier in the year, those high numbers continued throughout 2020. By the end of September, the number of drug overdose deaths in Franklin County in 2020 exceeded 45% a year earlier.4th

The city of Columbus was not alone with these alarming spikes during the pandemic. Unfortunately, this type of loss of life has been a national trend. The pandemic resulted in isolation, anxiety, depression, and put a strain on the mental health of many people. Since poor mental health is often linked to substance abuse, this may have led to an increase in substance abuse. Another factor that could have caused the surge is boredom. With stay-at-home orders, social distancing rules, and lots of unemployed people, some people have had nothing better to do than get high. The sole residents also had no one to call for help when it was going south.

It became much more difficult to stay sober for those who had already received addiction treatment in Franklin County. Many people in recovery depend on the support of others, but the pandemic has limited social interaction and human contact. This lack of personal support can have led to relapses and overdoses.

While vaccines will continue to be given, it does not mean the effects of the pandemic will go away. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, now is the time to seek help. Our behavioral health center in Franklin County offers flexible treatment options to help people overcome their addictions and get on with life after the pandemic.

While we take all precautionary measures and follow CDC guidelines, we also offer virtual addiction treatment if you are not yet comfortable with personal attention. Don’t wait another day to get back on the road to recovery. Call us to get started.

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