35% of all Telehealth visits during the pandemic were related to mental health. Today we explore an important aspect of our Pandemic 2030 planning.
The surge, the 2020 data show, was driven largely by a proliferation of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid whose use has spread across the nation. The pandemic amplified the epidemic of overdoses, bringing on social isolation, trauma and job losses, according to addiction experts and treatment providers. Overdose deaths began rising in the fall of 2019 with the spread of fentanyl, but really took off starting in March 2020, when pandemic-driven shutdowns and physical-distancing measures set in. “It’s really one of those things where 2020 turbocharged something that was already wildly out of control,” Dr. Saloner said.
The deaths from drug overdoses form a twin public health crisis with Covid-19 and show how the human toll of the pandemic extends well beyond the estimated 377,883 U.S. deaths involving that disease last year. Covid-19 was the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, after heart disease and cancer, according to preliminary mortality data. Unintentional injuries, which include drug overdoses, were the fourth-leading cause.
Isolation is powerful in its negative impact on all of us. Any planning for a future pandemic has to address how we keep people connected when safety calls for isolation.
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