The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Made The Opioid Epidemic Worse


Covid-19 isolated many people. This caused an increase in suicides, alcoholism, and drug abuse. This includes opioids. 

Thomas Stopka, an associate professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University said, “We’ve been seeing increases in opioid overdose deaths over the past 15 to 20 years, but the increase from 2019 to 2020 was upwards of a 30% increase, from about 70,000 the previous year to 93,000 in 2020,” Isolation drives people to rely on things other than the people around them. Opioids, for a lot of people, are an easy crutch.

Opioids are prescription painkillers, and like many other prescription drugs, they’ve made their way onto the street. This alone made the epidemic far worse, and then there was a pandemic. The APA cites the CDC as saying, “…as of June 2020, 13% of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to COVID-19. Overdoses have also spiked since the onset of the pandemic.” Overall, the stress and increase in mental health issues have spiked substance abuse of all kinds. However, opioids are especially concerning seeing as it was an epidemic even before Covid came around.

People are unstable, and we need to seek help at times when we need it. But different people find help with different things. For some, it’s therapy, some family, and some lean on drugs. So because of the decrease in the availability of other resources, drugs became an easy option. 

The Department of Justice writes, “3,900 people will use a prescription opioid outside of legitimate medical purposes and supervision. These prescription drugs are many times obtained through theft, fraud, or otherwise diverted from people with legitimate, medically-appropriate prescriptions.” Because of this situation, the CDC has been working hard to end the reliance on opioids. 

The CDC has changed the requirements for prescribing opioids in recent years. They’ve been spreading awareness about the risks of opioids, and have been working closely with police to decrease the amount of opioids curling in streets. All of these efforts have made an impact, but as the numbers show, the opioid crisis continues. 

As an everyday citizen, try to stay educated and spread awareness. Especially as Missoulian fentanyl overdoses are becoming more common, local street drugs are becoming even more dangerous. Be a good human.

How the Covid Pandemic Made the Opioid Epidemic Worse … 

“Substance Use during the Pandemic.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association,