Coronavirus pandemic causes rise in drug overdose deaths, preliminary CDC data shows

Preliminary data shows that overdose deaths have increased by about 10%

Drug overdose deaths saw a significant increase during the first few months of 2020, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Preliminary data from the federal agency shows that overdose deaths have increased by about 10%, with the CDC estimating that the country could see more than 75,500 drug-related deaths this year. (For context, in 2019, overdose deaths in the country rose 4.6% to 70,980. An estimated 50,042 of those deaths involved opioids.) 

In the first quarter of 2020, the U.S. reported 19,416 overdose deaths, according to the CDC. In the first quarter of 2019, some 16,682 fatally overdosed. 

“There's absolutely no doubt that the distress caused by COVID-19 is shifting people more into having addiction disorders, is worsening those that have it and is blocking people from being able to maintain recovery,” Dr. Paul Earley, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, previously told Fox News

ESTIMATES SUGGEST DRUG OVERDOSES ON THE RISE SINCE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

Treatment facilities were forced to either shut down or implement social distancing measures, including wearing masks, limiting visitations, and holding sessions over Zoom rather than in-person due to fears of spreading the virus – all but eliminating that human element that health experts say is crucial in the recovery process.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the perfect storm,” Earley added at the time. “Addiction treatment requires human interaction and hope and we've had to stop the interactions associated with addiction treatment.”

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The news comes after a report from the Washington Post citing data from the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program--a federal initiative that collects data from ambulance teams, hospitals and police--found that suspected overdoses spiked 18% in March, 29% in April, and 42% in May compared with last year.

Fox News’s Benjamin Brown contributed to this report.