Opioid overdoses spike amid isolation due to COVID-19

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The impacts of the pandemic seems to be impacting those using opioids.

As the number of COVID-19 cases increase, so have the amount of opioid overdoses.

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Here in the Cape Fear, the Coastal Horizons Center has seen a spike in the number of people they have helped.

Just this year alone, Coastal Horizons Clinical Director Vice President Kenny House said May and June were the two months they have connected the most survivors with their quick response team.

House said this has raised concern.



“There were more people that we reached and engaged in treatment that we had in the previous two years in any given month, so we know that that’s still a problem. We hear it from our first responder experts,” House said. “We hear it from the hospital, we hear it from the community paramedics.”

The Wilmington Police Department has already responded to more than 300 overdose calls this year.

House said on average they see anywhere from 10 to 15 new survivors a month.

House said those numbers have risen to 20 people in May, and 16 in June. He blames the increase partly on isolation during the pandemic.

“Which means that they have less connection with some of the strengths and recovery support systems that might help them otherwise,” House said.

He included that their quick response team believes the stimulus check has also been a contributing factor.

“Because they were making bad choices with their finances already, having received some of the stimulus money,” House said. “They’ve used that money for more purchases of drugs which has actually led them to use more.”

House said the lack of connectivity has made it harder on survivors, especially those who are in the beginning stages of their healing process.

“Yes they have some access in terms of virtual meetings, but in terms of kind of the hand to hand, and the face to face, and the hugs and that kind of support, it’s lessened for people in early recovery, so it makes it more challenging for them,” House explained.

He said the team has kept in touch with survivors virtually to provide as much support as possible.

The quick response team is made up of peer support specialists and licensed therapists who are trained in interventions.