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Coronavirus crisis not helping as opioid epidemic rages on

Even before COVID-19, America was battling the major public health crisis of the opioid epidemic.

Allegedly, over two million Americans struggle with the disorder, which claims the lives of 130 sufferers daily.

Opioids were the leading cause of accidental deaths in the nation.

Due to lockdown-related disruptions, walk-in clinics are closing in favour of virtual meetings.

Also, the stress caused by the pandemic is making relapse more likely.

Law enforcement officials report an increase in overdoses, but it is unclear whether these are connected to COVID-19.

Niagara County experienced a 35% increase in drug overdoses between 1st January and 6th April, with other regions seeing a similar pattern.

Harm reduction programmes are hampered by a lack of funding and reduced capacity and staffing during the pandemic.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has responded by allowing patients to stock up on two to four weeks’ supply of methadone.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has eased the telehealth restrictions on obtaining buprenorphine.

In some communities, needle exchange programmes have been put on hold until further notice.

Jamie Favaro, the founder of Next Distro, an organisation that provides syringes, is getting about five times as much business as usual.

If needle exchange programmes continue shutting down, she fears that we may see a spike in HIV and hepatitis C transmissions.

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