Parallel Epidemics


Anchor lead: Overdose deaths are increasing along with COVID-19 mortality, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Deaths from drug overdoses are reaching record levels even as those from COVID-19 continue to climb, CDC data reveal. Eric Strain, a drug abuse expert at Johns Hopkins, says there are many factors to consider.

Strain: Overdose deaths are up, and in some respects it seems like these death rates are getting obscured with the appropriate concerns about COVID. The overdose deaths are also concerning because we’re seeing more stimulant overdose deaths. So methamphetamine, cocaine. Those rates are going up. Now it may be that they’re combined with opioids but there’s some concern that we’re so focused on opioids that we’re missing the fact that methamphetamine use and cocaine use are going up as well.  :29

Strain asserts that many of these overdose deaths are likely deaths of despair, or intentional overdoses. He says that programs at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere are working hard to identify risk factors and barriers to treatment. I’m Elizabeth Tracey.