Pandemic creates “perfect storm” for opioid crisis, overdoses go up in Columbus

Health

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — A record number of Americans died of drug overdoses last year as pandemic lockdowns made getting treatment a challenge. Opioid-related deaths drove these increases, specifically synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

According to the CDC, more than 93,000 fatal overdoses occurred in the United States in 2020, making overdoses the #1 cause of accidental death in the country.

The pandemic created “a perfect storm’’ for the opioid crisis.  Things like economic shock, social isolation and the shift to telemedicine created roadblocks for people looking to get addiction support or medications. 

Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan says these deaths have increased in Columbus and are happening right in people’s backyards. 

“We find a lot of people in the bathroom with syringes still in their arms and the spoon on the counter by the sink and the lighter,” Bryan said.  “It’s really sad and it doesn’t discriminate.”

Over in Alabama, the Eufaula Police Department recently posted a public alert from the Drug Enforcement Administration about a sharp increase in fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and meth. Drug traffickers are using fake pills to exploit the opioid crisis, falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills and killing people with deadly doses of fentanyl. 

The public alert also stated that drug trafficking is inextricably linked with violence. 

“This year alone, the DEA seized more than 2700 firearms in connection with drug trafficking investigations, a 30% increase since 2019.”

The DEA is warning the public that the only safe medications are ones prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. Any pills that do not meet this standard are unsafe and potentially deadly.

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