Drug Overdose Deaths Spike Statewide Since COVID Restrictions

Concerns have been raised over the cure potentially being worse than the disease since the first restrictions were imposed on Minnesotans to slow the spread of COVID-19. Among the key groups considered most at risk were those struggling with addiction, as underscored on the website of this counseling center.

The idea of social distancing, in general, is the absolute opposite of when needs to be done to remain sober during hard times. Due to the many restrictions in place right now, attending 12 step groups and traditional counseling is not an option now. When these people do not have access to all the resources, they need to remain sober, many people relapse and unfortunately lose their lives.

In fact, the number of fatalities due to drug abuse, particularly opioids, has increased 31 percent through June 2020 compared to the first half of 2019. The death spiked noticeably at the onset of the pandemic, according to newly released Minnesota Department of Health statistics.

The increased death rate due to overdose was slightly higher in Greater Minnesota than in the metro area. The grim numbers were broken down by Fox 9 News and other media outlets.

490 Minnesotans died from overdoses in the first half of 2020. 373 people died during the same timeframe in 2019.

The state says overdoses started to increase sharply in March due to synthetic opioid-involved deaths. About 80 percent of deaths during this timeframe were synthetic opioid-related.

Young adults aged 25-34 suffered the worst increase in fatalities with 50 percent more deaths than the previous year. State health officials acknowledge the correlation of the rise in overdose deaths to the Coronavirus without mentioning the potential impact of state restrictions on individuals seeking access to help.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm connected the overdose surge to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Deaths due to overdoses are preventable even amid all the troubles we’ve had this year,” Malcolm said.

Despite the troubling trend, the eight-page MDH report offered no changes in state policy or guidance on how to mitigate the impact of Gov. Walz’s continuing Coronavirus restrictions on Minnesotans struggling with addiction issues.