On December 17th 2020, the CDC Health Alert Network alerted public health departments, healthcare professions, first responders, harm reduction organizations, laboratories, medical examiners and coroners of the increase in fatal drug overdoses across the united states driven by synthetic Opioids before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Specifically, they were alerted to-
(1) substantial increases in drug overdose deaths across the United States, primarily driven by rapid increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids excluding methadone (hereafter referred to as synthetic opioids), likely illicitly manufactured fentanyl;
(2) a concerning acceleration of the increase in drug overdose deaths, with the largest increase recorded from March 2020 to May 2020,coinciding with the implementation of widespread mitigation measures for the COVID-19 pandemic;
(3) the changing geographic distribution of overdose deaths
involving synthetic opioids, with the largest percentage increases occurring in states in the western United States;
(4) significant increases in overdose deaths involving psychostimulants with abuse potential (hereafter referred to as psychostimulants) such as methamphetamine; and
(5) recommendations for communities when responding to the evolving overdose crisis.
“These newly released provisional fatal overdose data, coupled with the known disruption to public health, healthcare, and social services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related mitigation measures, highlight the need for essential services to remain accessible for those most at risk of overdose and the need to expand prevention and response activities.” (HAN)
Essential services for people at risk of overdose include support and a sense of community, in addition to actual medical treatment for substance use disorders. Advocacy and education are foundational tools that are critical in creating the systems people need to get well and get into recovery. These are the tools Michele is using so adeptly to shape the treatment services and recovery supports that are available to people in Benton and Franklin counties.
We are so grateful to Michele for her leadership, and we’re inspired every day by the monumental changes that community members like her — and you! — can create.
To learn more about the Benton Franklin Recovery Coalition and get involved, visit 509recovery.org.
To find your own local recovery coalition, visit the WRA coalition page.