COVID-19 Pandemic Accelerates Opioid Overdose Deaths

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A sobering report released last week details a national surge in overdose-related cardiac arrest due to the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States. This report sheds light on the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on vulnerable populations, including those suffering from addiction. Waismann Method® Medically Assisted Opioid Treatment views this as a call to action to extend treatment services to those dealing with opioid addiction, including an expansion of mental health treatment to address addiction's underlying causes.

Waismann Method® Opioid Treatment Specialists and Rapid Detox Center

Waismann Method® Opioid Treatment Specialists and Rapid Detox Center

A comprehensive inpatient medical evaluation, successful medical detox, and an accurate emotional assessment with an individualized plan are the best components to support people in maintaining a healthy journey.

As of December 7, 2020, the United States reports more than 14.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 282,345 deaths due to the virus. However, the true magnitude of the pandemic is much greater. These death tolls do not include individuals who die due to lack of medical resources, and overburdened medical system, suicide, or mental health-related illnesses such as addiction.

The new report, published in JAMA Psychiatry, included data from the National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Information System. This system includes information from more than 10,000 EMS agencies across 47 states, providing a comprehensive view of medical events in the United States. The report showed overdose-related cardiac arrests rising sharply in April 2020. By May 4, rates were more than double the baseline from 2018 and 2019. Overdose-related cardiac arrests decreased slightly in the summer months but remained 53.7% above baseline by July 27 and 48.5% above baseline by August 1.

The report also highlighted the relationship between mobility and overdose-related cardiac arrest. As mobility decreased sharply under stay-at-home orders, cardiac arrests rose. The researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles who authored the report speculate that the increase in overdose-related cardiac arrests may be due to more people using substances alone, increased toxicity of the drug supply, and reduced access to treatment. Combined, these factors make each overdose incident more deadly.

In response to the alarming report from JAMA Psychiatry, the Waismann Method Medical Group calls for mental health to be placed at the center of the conversation about the opioid crisis and COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Michael H. Lowenstein, Director of the Waismann Method Medical Group, stated, “This report highlights what so many of us on the front lines of this crisis already know: the COVID-19 pandemic is making the opioid crisis worse. Mental health is deteriorating, and social isolation is putting people in risky situations. It’s time to treat addiction and mental health problems as seriously as COVID-19.”

Bold Action Needed to Combat the Twin Epidemics: COVID-19 and the Opioid Crisis

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States was in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. This left a large portion of the population medically, socially, and psychologically vulnerable. The sharp increase in opioid-related overdose deaths since March 2020 points to the need for immediate action to address these twin crises.

COVID-19 infection contributes to respiratory frailty, which can be deadly for individuals suffering from opioid addiction. Mental health is an equally large concern. Social distancing and other safety measures are critical in reducing the spread of the virus. However, they also contribute to isolation, loneliness, and worsening of mental health symptoms. By late June 2020, 40% of Americans were dealing with substance abuse or mental health problems. Younger adults, essential workers, unpaid adult caregivers, and racial/ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected.

Opioid use disorder does not occur in a vacuum. It is driven by depression, anxiety, trauma, isolation, and other serious mental health problems. Only by treating these underlying mental health symptoms can we help people achieve long-lasting sobriety. Waismann Method Medical Group calls on public health officials to expand funding for education, mental health treatment, and life-saving medical care, including a medical detox. We urgently need to provide mental health and medical treatment to the vulnerable people who need it most.

About Waismann Method®

Waismann Method® has more than two decades of experience providing top-quality medical care for those suffering from Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). The center is internationally recognized for its hospital-based medically assisted opioid treatment, rapid detox protocol, and exclusive Domus Retreat for post-detox aftercare. The program is located exclusively in Southern California, where thousands of patients from all over the world have been successfully treated.

Clare Waismann SUDCC, RAS, founded the center in 1998. Its goal was and still is to continue providing the most effective, safe, and comfortable medically assisted opioid detoxification. A treatment option that helps individuals achieve an opioid-free state which allows them to be emotionally present for a more accurate psychological assessment and adherence to the indicated therapy. "A comprehensive inpatient medical evaluation, successful medical detox, and an accurate emotional assessment with an individualized plan are the best components to support people in maintaining a healthy journey," Clare Waismann.

Waismann Method® and Domus Retreat, together, provide people a scientific and individualized approach to patient care, featuring a multidisciplinary team to ensure safety, comfort, and success.

Find out more about Waismann Method® at

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Clare Waismann
since: 09/2008
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