Federal officials involved in combating the opioid epidemic say they are concerned the progress made so far will be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Politico reports.
“I think we’re going to see deaths climb again,” said Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “We can’t afford to focus solely on COVID. We need to multitask.” She said the National Institutes of Health has frozen most non-coronavirus related research, including a $1 billion project studying treatment options and alternatives to opioids that was rolled out last fall.
Social distancing rules and fears of the virus are impacting traditional addiction treatment, including peer counseling, medication-assisted treatment and syringe exchange programs.
Addiction recovery and mental health advocates who spoke with President Trump last week are asking the federal government for almost $50 billion in emergency funds to bolster the nation’s opioid crisis response.
Heroin & the Opioid Epidemic: From Understanding to Action
Heroin and other opioids are ravaging communities across America. Heroin-related deaths increased by more than five times between 2010 and 2017, and drug deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are seeing a sharp rise as well.