While the coronavirus epidemic continues to impact the United States, the addiction epidemic is silently following it.
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Virginia entered Phase Three of Governor Northam’s reopening plan earlier this month. Northam said he will be keeping a close eye on health metrics. If the numbers start to trend upward then state restrictions could be tightened again.
Virginia has been using a cloud-based, cross-agency, data-sharing analytics platform to coordinate the fight against addiction since 2018. The Framework for Addiction Analysis and Community Transformation (FAACT) is now being expanded to help the Commonwealth mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The coronavirus pandemic poses unique challenges for people struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD). As in many other places across the United States, liquor sales across Virginia increased significantly as soon as the Commonwealth’s stay-at-home order first went into effect in March, indicating much-elevated stress levels among Virginians.
A group of people that don’t receive a lot of attention in America’s addiction crisis is people over fifty. It is somehow often assumed that older adults are not susceptible to substance use disorders with all the headlines focused on people in their twenties overdosing on opioids.
A pharmacist who worked in Saltville, Virginia pleaded guilty in federal court on June 1 to one count of obtaining drugs by fraud and one count of using the registration number of another in the course of acquiring a controlled substance.
The national attention is understandably focused on the novel coronavirus at the moment, but America’s addiction crisis has not gone away. We just don’t hear about it that much anymore. There is circumstantial evidence that it is getting worse again after the number of drug overdose fatalities saw a slight reduction in 2018—for the first time in decades.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new illness that—according to currently available information and clinical expertise—impacts older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions with increased severity and higher prevalence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists a number of cohorts “at high-risk for severe illness” from COVID-19:
As Virginia continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Ralph Northam reminded people in the Commonwealth that another health crisis they are facing is far from over. A significant increase in drug overdose cases since the beginning of the year is cause for concern. The number of emergency overdose calls that dispatchers in Virginia have responded to this year has already exceeded the total number of similar calls in 2019, Northam said this month.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, anxiety disorders and major depression were on the rise across the United States. COVID-19 has now significantly escalated this problem. “The coronavirus pandemic is pushing America into a mental health crisis,” reported the Washington Post earlier this month. “Federal agencies and experts warn that a historic wave of mental-health problems is approaching: depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide.”