Drug overdoses have surged since the COVID-19 pandemic began

Across the United States, health officials are reporting unprecedented surges in drug overdoses.

Last week, The Washington Post released data from a real-time tracker of drug-related emergency calls and interviews with coroners. The report concludes that drug overdoses have not just increased since the pandemic began but are continuing to accelerate.

Across the country, suspected overdoses increased 18 percent in March compared with last year, 29 percent in April and 42 percent in May.

There appear to be several factors at work. Social distancing due to COVID-19 has kept people apart, leaving them to take drugs alone and making it unlikely that someone else will be there to call 911.

The normal drug supply lines have been disrupted by border closings and cities shut down. Now many people are seeking out new suppliers and substances they are less familiar with, increasing the risk of overdose and death.

And many treatment centers and recovery programs have been forced to close or scale back due to the pandemic.

The depressed economy might play a role too. Studies have consistently shown links between stagnant economies and increases in suicides, drug use and overdoses.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction during this crisis, contact your doctor or seek out a mental health professional.