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Anchor lead: In addition to Covid-19, overdose deaths are skyrocketing, Elizabeth Tracey reports
From May 2019 to May 2020, deaths due to opioid overdose were almost twice as high as the previous year, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicate. Eric Strain, a psychiatrist and substance use disorder expert at Johns Hopkins, says even that number is most likely an underestimate.
Strain: I think previously the latest data were through 2018 but they announced this data through May of 2020. And it was 81,000 overdose deaths for that 12 month period. In 2018 I think we had something on the order of 46,000. Part of what’s striking about this is some of us thought that with Covid we might see a decrease in deaths because people were socially isolating and may not be out purchasing fentanyl and things like that and if anything its been the reverse. :31
Strain says the numbers clearly point to an urgent need for intervention, and notes that all stakeholders need to be involved, including patients, clinicians and policymakers. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.