CDC: Overdose deaths increased by 30% during pandemic

Health experts say drug abuse was already a big problem before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, and the isolation brought on by COVID restrictions made it harder for struggling addicts to get treatment.

Arman Maddela relapsed from alcohol and drug addiction during the Pandemic. 

"Just being confined in that isolated environment, the thought crept back into my head that drinking and using would be at least somewhat entertaining," Maddela said.

Latoya Melendez's 48-year old mother Sonja overdosed during the pandemic. 

"Her use increased during the pandemic because she didn't know how else to be able to cope with that depression and that pain she was suffering," Melendez said. 

New CDC data shows that deaths from drug overdoses increased by 30% in 2020. 

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"The opioid crisis has continued to worsen. It was already getting worse before hit during COVID, the number of opioid-related overdoses skyrocketed even faster," said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the Medical Director for opioid policy research at Brandeis University. 

Lydia Burr the director of clinical services at Hazelden Betty Ford says COVID-19 lockdowns made things even more difficult for addicts trying to get clean. 

"The disease of addiction is one that really thrives in isolation," Burr said.

Burr's advice for those suffering now is "daily structure is really important it sounds cliché there's a lot of research to show healthy diet and workout and structure to daily life beneficial for people." 

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Burr and Dr. Kolodny believe there are ways to combat this crisis. 

"If we can make the treatment easier to get and Fentanyl harder to get I think we will see deaths come down," Dr. Kolodny said. 

New York's Attorney General releasing a statement saying "These new numbers are a painful sign that swift and concrete action is desperately needed." 

She's committing money to local organizations that offer prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.