Drug Abuse During the Pandemic
By Everton Prospere
Volume 1 Issue 6
March 18, 2021
Image provided by The Economist
While the threat of COVID-19 continues, a hidden issue grows. Drug abuse has skyrocketed in the United States overall and right here in New York, both for adults and adolescents. The factors contributing to this crisis include the disruption of everyday life and stress.
In New York City, overdose deaths have dramatically escalated in the past year. According to The City newsroom and a report from the City University of New York, 22% of injection drug users reported reusing needles, a fourfold increase from the previous year. Furthermore, the Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine detailed that the opioid crisis has also increased, largely due to the pandemic. The magazine interviewed Charlotte Bismuth, a former New York County’s assistant district attorney, who stated, “[people] are living in tents because they lost their spot in sober homes because they lost their job...it’s so much worse than it was when Covid began [in regard to the opioid epidemic]”. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] has reported the overdose deaths during 2020 to understand a more numerical value. As per the CDC, over 81,000 United States citizens died of drug overdose deaths, the largest number reported by the CDC. The agency supports the claim that the pandemic contributed to the increased number of substance abusers and, in turn, deaths due to “the disruption to daily life.”
In addition to the considerable increase in drug abuse, the profound impact of drugs on teenagers during the pandemic must not be ignored. Time magazine reports a study conducted by the organization FAIR health, in which a sharp spike in drug abuse was discovered in comparison to the year before the pandemic. In addition, the University of Minnesota reports an increase of 94.9% regarding overdoses in 13-year olds and a 119.3% increase in 18-year olds. While the factor of everyday life disruption is included as a cause of this statistic, stress levels must also be accounted for. Schoolwork especially has resulted in over half of students stressing more in the 2020 school year than the 2019 school year, as per a survey conducted by the NBC News and Challenge Success non-profit.
The pandemic has caused increased levels of drug abuse due to a disruption in daily life and stress. While teenagers especially may feel these struggles, we are reminded once more during the celebration of Red Ribbon Week at North, which takes place between March 15th and March 19th , to live a drug-free life.