2020 was a year fraught with disease and death due to COVID-19, and as a side effect of the circumstantial constraints that came with the pandemic, it also showed a lot of potential to be the worst year in drug overdose deaths ever. New data released in mid-July by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illustrates just how dramatically the U.S. suffered at the hands of the opioid epidemic in 2020: a record 93,000 drug-overdose deaths were documented last year, a nearly 30% increase from 2019 and the sharpest annual increase in three decades. That’s mind boggling.

What’s Causing The Sharp Increase in Drug Overdose Deaths?

Data suggest that synthetic opioid fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin, was already on the rise in late 2019, quickly poisoning the U.S. drug supply. This growing concern combined with the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 created a perfect storm for those struggling with drugs or in recovery. Stay at home orders left many of them susceptible to increased drug use or relapse. And it’s clear the contamination of the drug supply has not slowed, as the data suggests more than 60% of the overdose deaths in 2020 involved fentanyl

What Will Curb The Drug Epidemic?

This new data underscores the need for urgent and drastic measures to be taken to address an epidemic that has spun out of control. Part of those measures involve increasing access to care, from initial treatment to ongoing counseling. Access can be addressed in a number of different ways: providing affordable care options, increasing physical treatment providers (particularly in rural or communities of color), and offering different modalities of care–namely online treatment and counseling. 

Since founding Lionrock in 2010, our goal has been to democratize SUD treatment, making it available at the click of a button on your computer or mobile device. What we’ve found is that the convenience and flexibility that come with online treatment is increasingly more important to our clients. The unforeseen limitations of Covid-19 in receiving in-person care led to massive growth in our client base – out of necessity – and now that they’ve experienced online care, the vast majority plan to stick with it – by choice.

As the country steels itself for a different, growing health crisis in the wake of Covid-19, we hope to be part of the solution in increasing access to care and reducing overdose deaths. If you’re interested in learning more about our Intensive Outpatient Program, Outpatient Program or accessing our variety of free online support group meetings, visit our website or call 800.258.6550.