Overdose deaths are up across the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Overdose deaths in the United States are up 29% over the last year, with the government reporting a total of 93,000 deaths nationwide.

Local officials are blaming the pandemic.

“I mean, it was hard for normal people who didn’t suffer from mental health or substance abuse disorder use to have good attitudes,” said Phil Pavona, the founder of local non-profit Families Against Narcotics.

“A lot of the treatment facilities shut down for a while, limiting the number of clients they would take, a lot of the transition services from rehab are no longer there because they had to close their doors for a while so outpatient programs were not there… a lot of those areas for sober living closed for a while or limited their admissions.”

The CDC’s estimates that the 93,000 overdose deaths across the country translate to an average of more than 250 deaths a day.

Pavona says he believes it’s partially because addicts need face-to-face treatment.

“They’re already feeling down and feeling pretty hopeless and like the community can’t really do anything for them and amend the few things we do have and really really great things get shut down as well

Sparrow Health System releases a quarterly report on drug deaths for Ingham, Eaton, Isabella, Ionia, and Shiawassee counties.

What they found in the first quarter:

“our overdoses are up this year for the first time in the first quarter above the previous four years, so there’s always ups and flows with it,” said Michelle Fox, the supervisor of forensic pathology for Sparrow Health System.

She says the report covers opioids, amphetamines, benzos, cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamine deaths.

“We are up in total of opioids and fentanyl, and we’re just seeing an increase in those/ 1:51 a lot of our counties are up when it comes to fentanyl it tends to just be a trend

Phil Pavona says these people are struggling and shouldn’t be judged.

“There’s a stigma attached to what it is that they are suffering from. it’s very hard for them to come up from what they are suffering with from underneath the rocks to gain support and help.”

According to the CDC, the 21,000 increase is the biggest year-to-year jump since the count rose by 11,000 in 2016.

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