There is no denying that 2020 will go on record as one of the most challenging years that anyone has ever experienced. Across the world, populations were ravaged by the deadly COVID-19 health pandemic and back home in the U.S., we saw massive job losses, spikes in depression and health problems galore. It is also worth noting that this year may break records for U.S. addictions and not in a good way.
New York Magazine recently published a story with a headline that says it all: “The Deadliest Year in the History of U.S. Drug Use.” Now it will still take a few more months to tally 2020 stats like overdose deaths and addiction-related hospital visits, but all signs are pointing to disastrous numbers. 2019, the New York article correctly points out, was already an extremely deadly year; with 70,000 fatal ODs. Early reports are showing 2020 metrics to be far worse, thanks in part to what is happening with the coronavirus.
So far, it appears as though the largest spike in overdose deaths happened between March and May (which was also when the quarantines began to take effect). Anxieties were certainly at an all time high at that point, with significant drops in the stock market, mandatory lockdowns and the “new normal” of social distancing. Recent research has also shown that isolation during the pandemic was a huge contributor to the rise in U.S. substance abuse.
Dr. Kim Sue, a prominent physician connected to Yale University’s School of Medicine, was quoted in the New York piece. She believes the addiction results from this year will be a major wake up call for elected leaders and lawmakers.
“I’m horrified by the increases across the board,” Dr. Sue told the site. “Even before the pandemic, the U.S. was going in the wrong direction.”
Previously, America’s recent addiction crisis was classified by waves. The first wave began in the early 2000’s and reflected the deadly opioid epidemic. The second wave touched on heroin and “street painkillers.” Then came the third wave, which drove tens of thousands of deaths via synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Now, though, New York Magazine is classifying things as a tsunami, which includes abuse from all fronts.
New stats that the mag released included a 26 percent increase in cocaine deaths from June 2019 through May 2020. There has also reportedly been a 35 percent increase in meth deaths over that same period. Stern warnings followed in the article, along with a call to action directed at future President Joe Biden. Now, New York claims, the resolution lies with his administration and hopes are focused on him selecting a strong leader for the director role at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).