COVID Consequence: Overdose Deaths Spike

We've seen many of the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, from hospitalizations and deaths related to the virus, to businesses and industries wiped out by shutdowns and restrictions. Now, we're seeing one of the most deadly and brutal impacts---a surge in drug overdose deaths. New research from QuoteWizard reveals a staggering rise in drug deaths across the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. "We saw a 27-percent increase in the number of fatal overdose drug-related deaths in just the last year," says Nick VinZant, senior research analyst with QuoteWizard. "That's 20,000 additional people nationwide."

"In Texas we found a 34-percent increase in the number of fatal overdoses," he continues. "That equals to 1,012 more people who died last year of a drug overdose, than in 2019."

While drug overdose deaths have been rising in the U.S. for the past several years, the rate of increase jumped drastically in 2020, signaling the pandemic was the biggest factor. "People were unemployed, stress levels, anxiety, depression---all of those things increased along with the pandemic," says VinZant. "And it has just been a very difficult and uncertain time."

As for the source of these overdoses, opioids are far and away the most common. "When you factor synthetic, natural and semi-synthetic opioids, opioids account for 70-percent of all fatal drug overdoses in the U.S.," says VinZant. "It is mainly an opioid problem."

Opioid overdoses have been a growing problem for many years, dating to before the pandemic. But VinZant believes the issue has now reached a new level of urgency. "We have had all of these different measures in place in different states for years trying to combat this (opioid problem), and yet it has still gotten that much worse over the last year," he says. "So we need to do more."

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