Hard Data Concerning Social Isolation

Back in December, one of our blogs discussed the detrimental effect that social isolation is having on the nation’s mental health. As one example, we pointed to a Kaiser survey. It revealed that nearly half of the respondents reported COVID-19 has been adversely affecting their mental health. Additionally, a US Census Bureau study found that one-third of adult Americans are showing signs of anxiety and depression during the pandemic. According to a recent article by PBS, those early anecdotal surveys are starting to translate into hard numbers in the form of drug overdose deaths. So many people who struggle with their mental health often turn to self-medication. As a result, these statistics should make us all take note.

 

Some Preliminary Statistics

The PBS article closely examines preliminary statistics via the CDC and their Vital Statistics Rapid Release for provisional drug overdose death counts. From June 2019 to May 2020, drug overdoses accounted for 81,000 deaths. That’s an 18% increase from the previous 12-month period. Iowa and Louisiana were hit the hardest, with increases of 46% and 47% respectively, while California deaths leapt by 27%. Furthermore, 2146 people died of opioid overdose in April of 2020, followed by 3388 deaths in May, a 58% jump. It marks the largest monthly increase since 2015. Experts attribute at least part of this increase to the complications COVID-19 has created for those trying to access treatment. Many people have been reluctant to receive in-person therapy or visit clinics for fear of contracting and spreading the disease. Additionally, clinics have longer wait times and diminished capacity as a result of safety measures.

 

Valuable Guidelines from the CDC

In order to prevent further fatal overdoses, the CDC “asked doctors, nurses, first responders and others to focus on ways to:

  • Distribute and use more naloxone, an antidote to reverse the effects of overdose.
  • Expand education programs that target overdose prevention.
  • Broaden awareness of access to available treatment for substance use disorders.
  • Identify and help individuals at highest risk for overdose early on.
  • Monitor for overdose outbreaks and launch more effective responses.”

While these steps are directives for professionals, they have value as guidelines for those who are struggling with mental health, either personally or via a loved one. 20% of people suffering from anxiety or depression also have a co-occurring substance use disorder, making overdose a grim possibility. If someone you love is suffering from one of these disorders, know the signs of illicit drug use and overdose. If you know them to be abusing opioids or otherwise self-medicating, consider purchasing a naloxone kit. And, above all, look into professional treatment options.

 

Innovative, Creative Care

In a statement accompanying the data, CDC Director Robert Redfield said that “it’s important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways. We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences.” Creative Care has not lost sight of our mission to provide cutting-edge, compassionate treatment to this vulnerable population. We remain open and adhere to the latest COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of our clients and staff. If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health, please consider giving Creative Care a call today.