Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Oklahoma synthetic opioid overdose deaths have increased by at least 50 percent in the COVID-19 era, according to a report of preliminary data released in December 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Nationally, this trend continues with the highest ever number of opioid overdose deaths reported within a 12-month span beginning in June 2019, with the largest spike occurring between March and May 2020. The provisional data suggests that this increase in overdoses correlates with appearance of COVID-19, as the overall overdose rates showed a decline prior to the onset of the pandemic.
Though the CDC notes opioids as the “primary driver” of the overall increase, this significant surge in overdose deaths is not limited to opioids. Rates of overdoses on other drugs have also risen substantially.
Recommendations from the CDC include more overdose prevention education, distribution and use of naloxone, and increased access to substance use treatment. The CDC also encourages early intervention for high-risk individuals and improved detection of opioid-related overdose outbreaks.
Recently, Oklahoma was approved for an Institution for Mental Diseases (IMD) waiver for serious mental illness and addiction from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), allowing coverage for medically-necessary inpatient treatment and expanding accessibility for those living with substance use disorders.
For more information about the impact of the pandemic on substance use disorders in Oklahoma, click here.