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Columbus Drug Overdoses & COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Columbus Drug Overdoses & COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Addiction has ravaged the state of Ohio including the Columbus metro area. Statewide, overdose deaths finally started to drop in 2018 after years of steady increases and a big effort from public health officials and private organizations alike.1 Unfortunately in Franklin County, home to metro Columbus, this was not the case.

Columbus Drug Overdoses Pre-Pandemic

While the state may have been making some progress, the Columbus area was still struggling. For several years, the number of unintentional drug overdose deaths in Franklin County continued to increase. In 2012 to 2019, the county saw increases from 191 deaths to 547 deaths a year.1 This is in tandem with the alarming 584% increase in residents who died from an unintentional overdose from 2003 to 2017.2 Not surprisingly, a large majority of these overdose were from opioids as the opioid epidemic in Columbus continues.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Columbus Overdoses

While 2020 could have been a good turning point, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. Businesses were forced to close their doors, lockdowns were put in place, and people were encouraged to stay home. As a result, instead of potentially seeing some progress, the number of drug overdoses in Columbus during the pandemic increased drastically. From January 2020 to June 2020, overdose deaths in Franklin County increased by almost 75% from the same time period in 2019. As a whole, the month of May in Ohio was also the deadliest month on record for drug overdoses.3 While pandemic drug overdose deaths in Columbus and the state may have peaked earlier in the year, these high numbers continued throughout 2020. By the end of September, the number of drug overdose deaths in Franklin County for 2020 outpaced the year before by 45%.4 The city of Columbus wasn’t alone in these alarming increases during the pandemic. Unfortunately, this type of loss of life was a national trend. The pandemic led to isolation, anxiety, depression, and strained many people’s mental health. Because poor mental health is often tied to substance misuse, this may have led to an increase in drug use. Another factor that may have led to the increase is boredom. With stay-at-home orders, social distancing rules, and many people out of a job, some people had nothing better to do but to get high. Those that live alone also had no one there to call for help if things went south. For those who already got addiction treatment in Franklin County, staying sober became much harder. Many people in recovery rely on the support of others, but the pandemic limited social interaction and human contact. This lack of in-person support may have led to relapse and overdose. While vaccines continue to be administered, it doesn’t mean that the impact of the pandemic disappears. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug use, the time is now to get help. Our Franklin County behavioral health center offers flexible treatment options to help people overcome their addictions and start moving on with their lives, past the pandemic. Although we are taking every precaution and follow CDC guidelines, if you are not comfortable with in-person care yet, we do offer virtual addiction treatment as well. Don’t wait another day to get back on the path toward recovery. Give us a call to get started.