Fighting the Opioid Epidemic along with the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus, which has been the sole cause of almost 400,000 deaths in the U.S. alone and millions worldwide, has been the talk of the town since the past year. While the main focus of health workers around the world is centered on the coronavirus, there is another epidemic brewing amongst teens and adults. 

The opioid crisis isn’t something new as it has continued to plague the U.S. since the 90s is at its peak right now as there is a shortage of healthcare workers. The misuse of opioids reached a point that in 2017, the president had to declare it a public health emergency.  

The emergence of coronavirus, coupled with disruptions in the health care system and social and economic factors leading to stress, are directly fueling the opioid epidemic. According to the reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States has recorded over 81,000 drug overdose deaths, which is the highest in a 12 month period. 

As the situation is getting out of hand, governments around the world must take drastic measures to contain this issue alongside the pandemic. There have been numerous advancements have been made in the sector, especially related to advanced technology being used to treat addicts. 

Advanced opioid withdrawal treatments like ANR (Accelerated Neuro-Regulation) has proved to be pretty successful in dealing with life-long addicts as such treatment programs interact with the endorphin-opioid receptors in an addict’s body and deal with the biological roots of opioid dependency. 

At a webinar hosted by the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) and the U.S Chamber of Commerce, the issue was raised in front of the guest speakers and audience. APCIA President and CEO David Sampson issued a statement that the impact that COVID-19 has had on the opioid addiction crisis in the U.S. has been staggering. 

According to Sampson, “Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. rose 4.6% in 2019 to 70,980, including 50,042 involving opioids, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What’s more, many U.S. states are now reporting a significant rise in drug fatalities for 2020 as COVID-19 has created new obstacles contributing to increased opioid use, abuse and risk of relapse for those in recovery.” He further stated that for those battling addiction, quarantine and social distancing have resulted in disruptions of treatment and recovery services and limited access to mental health services and peer support. 

The Chairman and CEO of Hartford, Christopher Swift, was also present at the seminar, and according to him, “During COVID-19, unfortunately, the numbers are going the wrong way. So, we have to double down our efforts.” Insurers like Hartford are the key when it comes to dealing with the opioid pandemic as their research and resource plays a substantial part in making sure that enough work is being done to alleviate the situation. 

Swift further added to his statement, “I think it’s a fairly well-known fact that with a three-to-five day dose of powerful opioids, you could create an addiction problem over a long period of time. It’s a workforce issue. It costs us money. As a large workers’ compensation provider, Hartford is working to fight the opioid crisis by providing access to education and programs to reduce opioid use nationwide. This effort will require federal, state, and local governments to explore options for increased partnerships with the private sector.”

The Vice President of State Policy for Shatterproof (a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming addiction treatments) said, We need more companies like The Hartford coming forward and saying, ‘We care about this issue, and we’re going to put our money where our mouth is and commit to erasing the stigma.” She further added that Utilizing the right language and making sure that it’s advancing our policies and our actions around what the healthcare community is saying, which is that addiction is a disease. It is not a moral failing, and we need not have shame.

Both Hunter and Swift emphasized one thing, and it was the fact that there is still a lot of hope. They both stressed that dealing with drug addiction is not just a day’s battle, but it is a war that has to be fought till the end of time. They encourage people to drop the social stigma regarding addiction patients and stress that instead of seeing it as something to do with morality, they see it as a lapse of judgment. 

So many families in the U.S. and around the world have lost so much due to drug addiction. If they can still keep fighting and hoping for better days to come, then so can we. Despite the ongoing pandemic and epidemic, we have to believe that there is still some light at the end of the tunnel. After all, we can’t just give up on fellow human beings who are going through a bad phase in their lives, can we?

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