The term “opioid crisis” was not born out of the pandemic; however, the number of opioid overdoses has risen substantially since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. Many look at the lack of local support during the pandemic. For example, many facilities closed, while others could only provide limited resources to care. The obstacles presented by the pandemic put many who needed help at a disadvantage, and the fallout has become an ongoing trend. Many people question whether efforts can be made to reign in the increasing numbers and bring balance back to the communities that need help the most? 

Data Analysis of the Opioid Crisis and the Pandemic

In 2020, there were 91,799 opioid-related deaths in the US. This was a 31% increase from the previous year, 2019. The surge and numbers are believed to have increased during the pandemic because of the stay-at-home order and the lack of outside resources to treat individuals with substance use disorders (SUD). Additional contributing factors suggest that the cost of day-to-day living increased the number of individuals distributing opioids, thus promoting the evolution of the opioid crisis.  

However, in the following year, 2021, numbers continued to increase. While fatalities nearly doubled in the opioid crisis during the pandemic, perhaps the ongoing crisis can relate to a country-level economic degradation. This suggests that people living in areas prone to economic fluctuations are at a higher risk of using opioids to cope. 

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The Crisis and Outside Influences 

According to the CDC, “more than 104,000 Americans died due to a drug overdose in the 12-month period ending in September 2021.” Due to the instability resulting from the pandemic, many Americans sought alternative ways to cope with their stress. This may have led many to use and abuse opioids. Additional contributing factors include: 

  • Limited access to social services
  • Limited healthcare resources as a result of facilities closing
  • Economic fluctuations
  • Limited job opportunities
  • Lack of community support
  • Drugs purchased from street vendors

The Potency of Street Drugs During the Pandemic

Why have so many people turned to using street-distributed opioids? Many people turned to using “street” opioids during the pandemic because of a lack of outside social environments, work, stresses revolving around day-to-day needs, and limited access to appropriate medical resources. The US also saw an increased presence of fentanyl in the market. 

Fentanyl is similar to morphine but 100 times more potent. Therefore, when an individual gets a hold of a substance that includes fentanyl, they don’t think about how it is manufactured. Street dealers understand this and therefore use fentanyl because it provides a common, cost-effective way to enhance the potency of opioids and increase the amount they can produce. As a result, many street drugs are manufactured with fentanyl. Unfortunately, fentanyl is very deadly, and this potent drug was a primary contributor to the surge in opioid crisis-related deaths during the pandemic. 

Rates Continue to Rise Beyond Previous Crisis Levels 

In addition to closing facilities and the lack of knowledge on substances, overdose rates continue to rise beyond previous crisis levels because of limited community awareness and funding. This created a combination of escalating costs, chronic healthcare conditions, and an increase in health expenditures that grew past three trillion dollars. This influenced the surge in risks of the credit crisis and provided an immeasurable gap for individuals who struggled with chronic conditions and SUD. 

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Increasing Awareness About the Opioid Crisis 

In February 2022, a variety of local resources and public health agencies put in motion efforts to help increase the awareness of the crisis and offer quality evidence-based care for SUD and access to harm reduction measurement. In addition, the new guidelines and policies of health insurance companies and rehabilitation centers are now providing a more balanced means of support for compassionate and comprehensive care. This includes providing local support such as 12-Step programs, online resources, and telehealth services. 

Despite efforts, the overdose rates in the United States and the world continue to rise because there needs to be more impact through community awareness on a national level and a state level. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we are at the forefront of this ongoing crisis to ensure that local communities within Hawaii have access to the care they need. Through our efforts, we hope to encourage other states and communities to take the same kind of action. 

Finding Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction, help is available. At Hawaii Island Recovery, our opioid addiction treatment can provide you with the comprehensive care you need to heal. Don’t wait until it’s too late – seek help today.

The United States saw an increase in the opioid crisis and pandemic because of diminishing healthcare resources, closing facilities, and lack of funding within the communities. However, at Hawaii Island Recovery, we remained a source of help throughout the pandemic and continue to work hard to remain an effective facility that helps to address and manage opioid addictions. If you struggle with a mental health or substance use disorder, our Hawaii substance abuse treatment center provides effective resources to help you manage your addiction and boost local support and awareness. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we offer hope through quality resources that incorporate conventional and holistic healing practices. Our facilities provide a fully integrated program with medically supervised detox and evidence-based treatment. For more information on the opioid crisis, the pandemic, and how to get help for your substance use or mental health disorders, call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070.