The number of opioid-related deaths is continuing to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the growth of telemedicine, ABC News reports.
The American Medical Association (AMA) says it is greatly concerned by the growing number of reports about opioid-related deaths during the pandemic, particularly from illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs. “More than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder in counties and other areas within the state,” the AMA said in a statement.
The increase in opioid-related deaths is occurring as the use of telemedicine has increased. While telemedicine can be helpful for people who are already engaged in care, the majority of people with opioid addiction are not already in treatment, said Caleb Banta-Green, PhD, of the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. Many people with opioid addiction “don’t have access to a phone, Wi-Fi, or other resources,” he said. To help address the problem, Banta-Green said, “We need to bring something back called phone booths…and they need to have Wi-Fi in them.”
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