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See how much overdose deaths in Washington, D.C. increased during COVID-19

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December 17, 2021
Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

See how much overdose deaths in Washington, D.C. increased during COVID-19

The coronavirus has caused increased stress and isolation for many people. Some have turned to substance abuse or increased the quantity and frequency of drug use during the coronavirus restrictions. Others turned to new drugs if their prefered drug became more difficult to access.

More drug users were using alone due to social distancing measures, which increases the risk of overdose death since there isn’t someone to administer first aid and call for help. With in-person socializing and community-based programs temporarily closed, there were fewer in-person recovery resources available.

Zinnia Health analyzed provisional data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics on drug overdose deaths across the United States. Zinnia Health compared data collected between March 2020 and March 2021 to data from March 2019 to March 2020 to understand how drug overdose deaths changed in every state during the coronavirus. When available, the types of drugs that caused overdose deaths are included in information for each state.

Keep reading to learn how your state fared during the pandemic, or check out the national story here.

Washington, D.C. by the numbers

- Drug overdose deaths (March 2020–March 2021): 518 (+23.9% change from March 2019–2020)
--- Opioid-related deaths: 416 (+30% change)
--- Synthetic opioid-related deaths, excluding methadone: 392 (+32.9% change)
--- Methadone-related deaths: 36 (+125% change)
--- Cocaine-related deaths: 189 (+23.5% change)
--- Heroin-related deaths: 99 (-4.8% change)
--- Psychostimulant-related deaths: 11 (-21.4% change)

The Department of Behavioral Health’s Drug Free Youth DC campaign seeks to prevent abuse of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco by young people in Washington D.C. In addition to helping teens and adults navigate the law when it comes to controlled substances, Drug Free Youth DC provides information on the offerings of each ward’s prevention centers.

In total, drug overdose deaths in the United States rose by around 30%, totalling an estimated 96,779 people between March 2020 and March 2021. While there is national guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding overdose prevention, each state has its own programs and strategies to combat drug abuse and substance abuse.

Continue reading below to see the states where overdose deaths increased and decreased the most during the COVID-19 pandemic.

States where overdose deaths decreased the most

#1. South Dakota: 77 drug overdose deaths, March 2020–March 2021 (-16.3% change from March 2019–2020)
#2. New Hampshire: 378 drug overdose deaths, March 2020–March 2021 (-3.3% change from March 2019–2020)
#3. New Jersey: 2,829 drug overdose deaths, March 2020–March 2021 (-1.9% change from March 2019–2020)

States where overdose deaths increased the most

#1. Vermont: 211 drug overdose deaths, March 2020–March 2021 (+85.1% change from March 2019–2020)
#2. West Virginia: 1,443 drug overdose deaths, March 2020–March 2021 (+60.3% change from March 2019–2020)
#3. Kentucky: 2,269 drug overdose deaths, March 2020–March 2021 (+56.8% change from March 2019–2020)

This story originally appeared on Zinnia Health and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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