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This Monday is Memorial Day. While there will not be parades, it is still an opportunity to express gratitude to all the men and women who gave their lives for America. Many members of the addiction recovery community are veterans and have lost people they were close to in foreign wars. Please take a moment to remember them during these challenging and unprecedented times.

opioidsAs you well know, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from being over despite most states loosening restrictions. If you live in those states, we ask that you continue exercising precaution to protect yourself against the coronavirus.

The United States still leads the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths; sadly, we have been hit exponentially harder than other nations. As of today, some 1,573,804 have tested positive for the potentially deadly virus, and 93,617 Americans have succumbed to health complications from the virus.

During Mental Health Month, it is still vital to prioritize physical well-being. Working a program of addiction recovery under these conditions is challenging enough; contracting the virus will make it even more difficult.

Hopefully, you have been able to maintain your program even though in-person meetings are mostly suspended across the country. If you have slipped up and relapsed, please contact your support network immediately for guidance.

You may find that you need more than your peers can offer, and there is no shame in contacting an addiction treatment facility, especially if your drug of choice is opioids like heroin.

Overdose Deaths Undercounted and a Spike is Imminent

Those who have been working a program of recovery and then relapse on opioids are at a high risk of fatal overdose for two reasons. A lot of heroin is being cut with fentanyl due to shortages, and people in recovery have a weaker tolerance. Fentanyl can be 50 to 80 times stronger than heroin.

What’s more, many first-responders are reticent about administering the overdose reversal drug naloxone or Narcan. Thankfully, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is working with communities around the country to instruct safely administering naloxone while avoiding the risk of contracting COVID-19. Elinore McCance-Katz, the director of SAMHSA, says:

“In some areas, first responders such as law enforcement do not want to administer naloxone because they’re afraid of being exposed to the coronavirus,” she says. “I found that very concerning because the option is that the person dies.” 

In other news, the number of Americans thought to have died of an overdose since 1999 was at least 400,000. However, a new study shows that overdose deaths have been severely underreported, Scientific American reports. Researchers found that about 630,000 people died of drug overdoses between 1999 and 2016, approximately 28% more than previously reported. The findings come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

“Opioid deaths serve as one of the main measures of the opioid crisis, and if opioid deaths are not counted accurately, the extent of the crisis can be severely misrepresented,” says Elaine L. Hill, an applied microeconomist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and study co-author.

Underreporting can lead to counties not receiving the resources they need to combat the opioid addiction epidemic in America. Hopefully, the study will catch the attention of lawmakers.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you are struggling with opioids or relapsed recently, please contact Hope By The Sea immediately for assistance. Our team is following every CDC protocol for COVID-19; our clients’ safety is of the utmost importance.

At HBTS, we would like to honor and express our gratitude to the brave men and women who fought bravely for the United States. We would like to wish everyone a safe and sober Memorial Day.