by Lil Cronin, MSW on behalf of Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (MSAPC)

The Coronavirus Pandemic & Drug Overdoses

The coronavirus pandemic may be a significant factor in the marked surge in drug overdoses, as reported on July 8th in the Washington Post. The continuing isolation, economic devastation, and disruptions to the drug trade have fueled the surge. The evidence being collected from hospitals, ambulance teams, and police reports suggests that overdoses have not only increased during the pandemic, but are accelerating as it persists.  Nationwide, suspected drug overdoses in 2020 rose 18% in March, 29% in April, and 42% in May, compared to those months in 2019.

The pandemic has created significant amounts of fear and uncertainty, anxiety and depression into people’s lives, especially those more vulnerable.  Drug users are experiencing increased distress and pain, and their overall needs are not being met.

Authorities had hoped that when the pandemic hit, a decrease in overdoses would result due to the disruption of drug traffic as borders closed and cities were shut down. However, the opposite appears to be happening. As the traditional supply lines are disrupted, drug users seem to be seeking out new supplies in substances with which they are less familiar, resulting in an increased risk of overdose and death.

Social distancing has led to users taking drugs alone. Therefore, no one is often present to call 911 or to administer Narcan to reverse the effects. On top of this, recovery programs, treatment centers, and drug courts have either slowed or significantly scaled back, due to forced shutdowns and plunging revenues for services. The need for these treatment programs and support services is especially crucial during this pandemic crisis.

How to Access Narcan

Narcan can be easily obtained at your pharmacy, and covered by insurance.  If you have someone in your home that may be at risk, it is advisable to have Narcan easily accessible.  If you are embarrassed to ask for Narcan aloud at your pharmacy, just write a note and ask for a confidential meeting with the pharmacist.

Narcan is also available through your local OEND (Overdose Education & Naloxone Distribution). Find an OEND in your community.

Help is Available

Here are some resources to help families with someone struggling with addiction:

Learn to Cope- Support groups for family members

MA Substance Abuse Hotline: 800-327-5050

MSAPC’s Website has lots of resources:

Many communities have substance abuse prevention coalitions which are great resources. Find your local substance abuse prevention coalition 


Submitted by Lil Cronin, MSW on behalf of Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (MSAPC)