The epidemic that hit West Virginia very much, finally retreated. But now over the state hangs another threat, this time not coronavirus, and opioids. About it writes The Guardian.
For the last three months COVID-19 claimed 93 lives in West Virginia. But this is only a small fraction of the number of those who died as a result of opioid overdose. They led to almost 1,000 deaths in the state only in 2018.
This year has been better than the last, the staff seem to be able to reverse the epidemic, which two decades has ravaged the region, destroying lives, wrecking families and destroying local economies.
Now coronavirus brought these successes in combating the epidemic of opioid use, claimed some 600,000 lives in the United States over the past two decades, no. Worse, he also slayed the Foundation for long-term revival of the epidemic, which has exacerbated unemployment, low incomes and isolation, which contributed to the increase in the level of intake of opioid drugs.
“The number of overdoses of opioids is growing rapidly, and I don’t think it will be easy to fix, said Dr. Mike Brumage, former Director of the West Virginia of Department on drug control. — As soon as COVID-19 finally recede, we are left alone with the social conditions that allowed the crisis to occur opioids, and they will not disappear.”
The pandemic also showed what can happen when the government is committed to emergencies in public health, in contrast to the opioid epidemic, which is largely ignored, despite the fact that the death toll has reached hundreds of thousands of people.
The American medical Association stated that it was “very concerned” by reports of the increasing number of overdoses of opioid drugs in more than 30 States, although to obtain reliable data it will take months.
Officials of public health from Kentucky to Florida, Texas and Colorado recorded a jump of deaths from opioids, as the economic and social fears of a pandemic COVID-19, proved to be fertile ground for opioid crisis. In addition, Brumage said that a significant number of people out of treatment programs because the support network was closed due to the decrees of isolation.
“I am firmly committed to the idea that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection. It is clear that what we’ve lost to the pandemic, it is a relationship,” he said. — Many of the people who have used the program or had access to the Internet or didn’t use services of cellular communication, especially those who were homeless. They just drop out of the program.”
The revival was not unexpected. In March, when COVID-19 escalated, the US President Donald trump has warned of the loss of life in addition to lives that will take away the virus.
“You will have a lot of suicides, but you know what will be the most in the world? Opioid dependence. We will see that they will be used as much as ever. And people will die everywhere, from overdoses,” said he.
Bromage and others who spoke with the Guardian, struggling tried to say that they believe that the scale of the government response to the Covid-19 necessary. But they found that the mobilization of financial resources and political will to combat the virus contrasts sharply with the response of successive administrations to the epidemic of opioids.
Emily Walden lost a son due to an overdose of opioid drugs and now heads Fed Up! the group conducting a campaign to reduce exceptionally high levels of prescription opioids in the United States.
“Congress responded immediately to the coronavirus to help those who have lost a job, to make sure people are taken care of, and it was solved properly, she said. — Look at the difference with opioid epidemic, which for 20 years has been ignored by our Federal government.”
While the US government has spent $6 trillion to combat the coronavirus, the administration trump has allocated a total of $6 billion on direct solution of the problem of opioid dependence during the first two years of its tenure, although in the period from opioid overdose died about as many people as have died COVID-19.
Brumage said that Federal health agencies have shifted their attention to the coronavirus, including freezing research project at $1 billion to find a less addictive pain medicine.
“There is also the fatigue from the opioid crisis. You can think about the coronavirus as the hurricane, while the crisis with opioids is more like global warming. It happens, it’s slow, it’s dangerous, but it’s not happening with the same speed and scale as the coronavirus,” said Brumage.
Bromage explains the difference in reaction is partly related to the problem of drug addiction.
“The difference between coronavirus infection and death from overdose is a stigma around opioid use and drugs. It is ingrained in all areas of the United States — that people who use medications such as antidepressants, for some reason are perceived as mentally unbalanced, and therefore, it becomes easier to push these people,” he said.
Walden does not accept this explanation. Like many whose families have been devastated because of the opioids, she sees personal and social disaster perpetuated the financial and political power of the pharmaceutical industry, which led to exceptionally high rates of opioid prescribing in the US, which was a major contributing factor to the epidemic of addiction.
“It depends on lobbyists and the money. People say that it is a stigma, but it is not. There is a stigma, but we are talking about profits and greed,” she said.
Dr. raeford brown, the former Chairman of the Advisory Committee on opioids in the Management under the control over products and medicines, is a longtime critic of the influence of the pharmaceutical industry in the opioid medical policies and the government’s response to the epidemic. He sees a parallel with the coronavirus that the States of the US too soon cancel orders for social distancing under pressure corporations.
“The United States does not work very well in public health, he said. They failed the test with opioids and failed the test-viral pandemics. But the coronavirus and pandemic, as well as phenomena such as the crisis of opioids, much more likely and dangerous than the Russian or the Chinese.”