In shadow of pandemic, SLO County drug overdose deaths hit record high

In a 12 months when the coronavirus has racked up an immense dying toll, well being officers say there’s an overlap with one other staggering determine—People dying from overdose in document numbers all through the nation, and that development is being seen in San Luis Obispo County.

For the final ten months, the pandemic has led to shelter-at-home orders, closures, and fewer direct contact between folks. Frank Warren with SLO County Behavioral Well being mentioned this has shaped a perfected storm for people affected by habit. 

“A shelter-in-place order comes and all of the sudden folks cannot exit and get the human interplay they might get every day,” Warren mentioned. “For an addict, or somebody who’s simply beginning remedy, these connections are actually vital.”

Whereas companies for remedy have at all times been obtainable, as a result of pandemic, in-person speak remedy periods have been swapped for video conferencing, and in-person group periods grew to become much less obtainable. 

“That’s a extremely vital a part of remedy and restoration,” Warren mentioned. ” Zoom and different on-line companies can create a few of that, however we’ve got to acknowledge that even our numbers began to go down for folks even strolling by way of the door. A part of remedy and restoration is social.”

Based on SLO County Sheriff-Coroner’s Workplace information, in 2020 there have been no less than 57 deadly overdoses. 19 different deaths are nonetheless underneath investigation, however have a major suspicion of overdose toxicity, so the entire may very well be 76 folks in SLO County.

For comparability, in 2019, 53 folks died from an overdose. Warren mentioned these deaths spanned from teenagers to folks in retirement age. 

“These are primarily fentanyl and opioid overdoses, methamphetamine,” Warren mentioned. “There’s a time period referred to as poly drug which implies there have been a number of medicine present in an individual’s system.”

Warren believes overdose deaths may have been worse if native legislation enforcement and first responders didn’t carry Narcan, a medicine designed to reverse an overdose. However he thinks now, extra focus must be on making lower-level remedy obtainable.

“Dependancy is in each considered one of our households, psychological sickness is in each considered one of our households,” Warren mentioned. “We’ve gone far too lengthy the place that is been ‘their drawback’ however once you begin dropping your group members, your neighbors, whether or not you knew them or not, you need to care.”

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