Drug overdoses skyrocket in Washington state amid COVID

May 10, 2021, 12:37 AM | Updated: 1:18 pm

SEATTLE (AP) — More people in Washington state died of drug overdoses in 2020 than any year in at least the past decade, with the surge likely driven by the effects of the pandemic, state health officials said.

The spike mirrors national trends. In December the Centers for Disease Control had reported more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in the 12 months ending in May 2020 — the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period.

“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said at the time.

The Seattle Times reported that fatal drug overdoses in Washington state increased more than 30% last year compared to 2019, according to the data from the state Health Department. The increase was more than twice as large as any in the past decade.

Deadly opioid overdoses — from prescription painkillers, fentanyl and other similar substances — increased by nearly 40%, according to the data. That represented more than triple the rate of any other increase in the past decade.

The Washington Department of Health was still analyzing the preliminary data and causes of death in specific cases and health officials expect the number of overdose deaths to grow even higher.

“It is reasonable to believe the psychological, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 led to an increase in drug use,” said Kristen Maki, a spokesperson for the department.

In 2020 the health department reported 1,649 drug overdose deaths, compared with 1,259 the previous year. Many more people reached out for help with drug or alcohol problems during 2020.

Calls to the Washington Recovery Help Line, a toll-free phone line for people seeking help or treatment for substance abuse, increased more than 90% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to data from the program, which is primarily funded by the state.

Troy Seibert, opioid use disorder manager for the recovery help line, said the disruptions and traumas over the past year — job losses, isolation, illness, death — contributed to the increases.

“Any time we see folks in a state of despair, substance use is going to rise,” Seibert said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Colombia: Survivor of capsized boat off Florida is Colombian

MIAMI (AP) — The sole survivor of a capsized boat found off Florida’s coast was a young Colombian man traveling with his younger sister, Colombia’s government said Friday. Authorities in Florida have found five bodies and believe 34 others also died in the migrant voyage. Colombia’s foreign ministry said in an email that it heard […]
1 day ago
This Jan. 24, 2018, photo released by the National Park Service shows a wolf from the Wapiti Lake p...
Associated Press

Montana weighs wolf hunt limits; 23 from Yellowstone killed

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife commissioners on Friday will consider if gray wolf hunting and trapping should continue in areas bordering Yellowstone National Park after 23 of the animals roamed from the park and were killed over the past several months. Yellowstone officials have asked Montana to suspend hunting along the park border to […]
1 day ago
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares speaks to the crowd during an inaugural celebration Saturda...
Associated Press

Virginia AG: State colleges can’t mandate COVID-19 vaccines

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — State colleges and universities in Virginia cannot require students to get vaccinated against COVID-19, under a legal opinion issued Friday by Virginia’s new Republican attorney general. Attorney General Jason Miyares found that because the state legislature has not passed legislation specifically mandating coronavirus vaccines for students, the colleges and universities don’t […]
1 day ago
This image released by HBO Max shows John Cena in a scene from the series "Peacemaker." (HBO Max vi...
Associated Press

‘Peacemaker’ puts John Cena film character in topical light

NEW YORK (AP) — In last year’s “The Suicide Squad,” John Cena’s Peacemaker is a jingoistic, bigoted superhero. Transferring the DC Comics character to a TV series spinoff gave writer-director James Gunn a forum to hold the flawed character to the light in these days of political divide. Cena, one of the biggest stars of […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Poland says Russia-Ukraine tensions not seen in decades

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Russian troop movements near Ukraine’s border that have ratcheted up fears of a potential invasion have complicated the international political scene to a degree not seen in decades, Poland’s president said Friday. President Andrzej Duda said the situation is “difficult” and reminiscent of 1989 when Moscow-led communist rule collapsed in Central […]
1 day ago
FILE—This file photo from Oct. 23, 2020, shows mail-in ballots for the U.S. 2020 General Election...
Associated Press

Pennsylvania court strikes down expansive mail-in voting law

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A statewide court declared Friday that Pennsylvania’s expansive two-year-old mail-in voting law is unconstitutional, agreeing with challenges by Republicans who soured on mail-in voting after then-President Donald Trump began baselessly attacking it as rife with fraud in 2020’s campaign. The decision, by a five-judge Commonwealth Court panel of three Republicans and […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Drug overdoses skyrocket in Washington state amid COVID