2020 'exacerbated all of the issues' driving record drug abuse in America

January 4, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating mental health effects on Americans, and drug abuse is hitting record levels.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in the 12-month period ending in May 2020. That’s the highest number ever recorded by the CDC.

“This pandemic and all that’s come along with it has really just exacerbated those vulnerabilities and the shortcomings of our own approach to treating those people,” Dr. Ryan Marino, a medical toxicologist and emergency physician based out of Ohio, told Yahoo Finance.

In San Francisco, the number of overdose deaths (621) outpaced COVID-related deaths (173) in 2020.

More than 40 states reported annual increases in opioid overdose deaths, “as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder,” according to the American Medical Association.

Marino said while the pandemic certainly intensified addiction issues, much of the blame lies in the fact that those struggling with substance use disorder still aren’t getting the proper help they need.

“I don’t know that anyone was anticipating it, but I think it just shows that we really haven’t learned from our own mistakes in the past,” he said. “2020 has really just exacerbated all of the issues that we have in terms of drug policy and just the way we treat people in our society in general.”

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