BAINBRIDGE – Yesterday, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) sent a letter to President Trump, highlighting how the unique circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have exacerbated the opioid crisis and made fighting the scourge of addiction much more difficult. In the letter, Joyce asks that the Administration make resources available to mitigate the detrimental impact the pandemic has had on our nation’s ability to combat the opioid crisis.
“As our nation grapples with the unprecedented challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, another public health emergency continues to devastate communities across our country: the opioid crisis,” said Joyce. “While significant progress has been made in our battle against this crisis, like drug overdose deaths dropping last year for the first time since 1990, we are now at risk of seeing that progress become undone. As we continue the urgent work of slowing the spread of COVID-19, we must commit ourselves to mitigating the detrimental impact this deadly virus has had on our ability to combat the opioid crisis. I stand ready to work with the President, my colleagues in Congress, and officials at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute for Drug Abuse so we can keep our communities safe from the opioid crisis’ tragic path of addiction.
In his letter, Joyce notes that while social distancing measures have no doubt been necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, we must recognize that:
- recovery from addiction is especially trying during months of social isolation and heightened anxiety;
- resources for recovering individuals have become harder to access as many peer-support group meetings and face-to-face visits with addiction professionals have been put on hold;
- community health centers, which provide essential treatment and recovery services, have seen revenues decline sharply, inhibiting their ability to operate at full strength and serve the individuals who rely on their support; and
- current conditions have made it harder for those battling opioid addiction to access opioid antagonists like buprenorphine and naloxone.
You can read the full text of Joyce’s letter here.
Counties across Ohio have reported increases in overdoses and overdose-related deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. From January to April 15, Franklin County saw a 50% increase in fatal overdoses with 62 people dying of overdoses in the month of April alone. Montgomery County officials reported 37 overdoses in March, the county’s highest monthly total in three years. In that same month, another 35 overdoses were reported in Hamilton County. Coshocton County had 10 overdose deaths between March 15 and April 15, more than double the amount over the same timeframe last year.