The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Opioid Overdose Epidemic

 

As COVID-19 has swept the nation and globe, the virus and its implications have had particularly harmful impacts on individuals struggling with opioid misuse, opioid use disorder (OUD), and overdose. The co-occurring COVID-19 pandemic and opioid overdose epidemic have created what some have called “the perfect storm for folks who are substance dependent.” The mortality rate for patients with a substance use disorder is predicted to be significantly higher than the general population, indicating that “epidemics don’t smolder during pandemics — they ignite.”

 

Click Here To Read the Full Report

FAQs on COVID-19 and Addiction/Substance Use Disorder (Pdf download)

WHO IS AT RISK OF OVERDOSE?

Those at risk for

Unintentional Overdose are:

  • Young children – confusing medication for candy
  • Elderly – confusing dosage or mixing medications improperly
  • Anyone who takes multiple medications
  • Individuals with Mental Illness
  • Anyone who takes an incorrect dosage of a medication

Those most at risk for

Overdose are:

  • Individuals using prescription opioids long term for chronic illness or pain management
  • Individuals abusing prescription or street drugs
  • Those who mix drugs with alcohol
  • Those who recently received treatment for drug abuse
  • Those with a history of overdose
  • Those recently released from incarceration

People with drug addiction issues usually don’t mean to overdose.   If individuals start using substances again at the same level they were prior to a period of not using substances, i.e., treatment or incarceration, they may easily overdose because their tolerance level has been lowered.

How to Recognize an Overdose

Depending on what drug was used, overdose symptoms can be different.  Overdose symptoms can also mimic many other conditions.  Some common signs of an opioid overdose:

 

Loud snoring or gurgling noises

Body very limp

Unresponsive

Skin pale/gray, clammy

Lips/fingertips turn blue(ish)

Pulse slow or erratic

Breathing very slow, shallow, or not at all

Unconscious

Responding to an

OPIOID OVERDOSE

Step 1:  Rouse and stimulate

Step 2:  Call 911

Step 3:  Give Naloxone (if you have a prescription)

Step 4:  Rescue breathing

Step 5:  Care for the individual until help arrives

HOW NOT TO RESPOND TO AN OPIOID OVERDOSE

Anecdotal Remedy

Use ice to cool down body

Put person in bath/shower

Hit/slap or burn fingers/feet

 

Give drink/induce vomiting

Inject person with cocaine,

salt water, milk, epinephrine

 

Possible Consequence(s)

Slowed heart rate, arrhythmia

Drowning

Bruising, broken bones,

infection, amputation

Choking to death

High blood pressure, infection

BECOME TRAINED IN NALOXONE

Attend Opioid Overdose Response Training

 

Naloxone, also known as Narcan ®, when administered to a person overdosing from an opioid medication or drug, can reverse the overdose immediately by quickly restoring breathing and consciousness.  If someone you know may be at risk for overdosing on prescription pain medication or heroin, you can obtain a prescription for this lifesaving drug medication and learn how to administer it.

 

Training participants learn about opioids, how to recognize, respond to and prevent an opioid overdose and how to administer naloxone to reverse an overdose.  After completing the training, participants receive a completion certificate, a prescription for naloxone and an overdose prevention kit.

 

The training and overdose prevention kit are FREE to participants

More Information About Naloxone & Training

PAINKILLER ABUSE

Destroys Lives.

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Get Help Now

SPONSORED BY THE ALLEGANY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT,

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES

(301) 759-5050

12501-12503 Willowbrook Road, PO Box 1745

Cumberland, Maryland 21501-1745

OUR MISSION: Prescribe Change Allegany County’s mission is to create awareness and educate the citizens of Allegany County,
Maryland about the growing crisis of opioid prescription drugs, and heroin misuse and abuse in our community.