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Drug overdose deaths increased 30% during onset of pandemic, CDC data says

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Posted at 1:00 PM, Jul 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 18:40:47-04

Drug overdose deaths increased 30 percent in 2020 as compared to 2019, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Tuesday indicated.

The data show the spike in overdose deaths was even more pronounced among Black and American Indian and Alaska Native people. The CDC said drug overdose deaths increased 44 percent among Black Americans and 39 percent among American Indian and Alaska Native Americans.

The CDC also noted a 24 percent increase in drug-overdose fatalities among white Americans.

One addiction center in Chesapeake, Brightview Health, told News 3 they've seen an increase in requests for services. They opened in 2021and have provided care for over 300 patients in their first year.

“The pandemic did not help with addiction,” said Director of Outreach Laura Dugan.

Illicitly-manufactured fentanyl largely drove the increase, the CDC said. Delphia Spruill with Brightview said most of their patients are seeking help for opoid addiction, but sometimes they unknowingly use fentanyl too.

"The unfortunate thing about it is they don’t even know until we tell them that they’re testing positive for fentanyl," Spruill said.

The CDC also noted the pandemic disrupted “access to prevention, treatment, and harm reduction services” likely contributed to this increase.

Spruill said Brightview is stepping up to make sure people with addiction get the help they deserve.

“We most definitely want them to feel like this is a place where they can come and receive the treatment and feel welcome and not stigmatized,” Spruill said.