Opioid Generic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- While COVID-19 ravaged the country during most of 2020, so too did another killer, quietly decimating the lives of thousands. 

Overdose deaths have long been a problem, but the year-over-year trends during the COVID-19 pandemic are causing experts and those who help people with substance abuse alarm. Fueled by a myriad of factors, data for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a dramatic increase in overdose deaths across the country. From August 2019 to August 2020, overdose deaths in the U.S. increased by 26.8%.

Deaths from overdoses in Indiana and Kentucky increased even more than the national average. Indiana went up by 30.5%, and Kentucky was up 43.9%, according to the data.

During the time period the data was collected, 2,126 deaths in Indiana were attributed to overdoses. In Kentucky, it was 1,885. 

"Trust being one of the top, significant issues in any early recovery for any alcoholic or addict, it's one of the best things to build that trust is come around and see other people and get that reconfirmation," said Shannon Gray, programs manager with The Healing Place. "We're talking isolation in homes. With families, some people are not working."

Some of those factors — and fewer systems in place to increase accountability — could help explain the dramatic increase. 

"With the jails and courts shutting down, the process of people being referred, people being court ordered, things like that took a pretty significant hit," Gray said.

The hope is that as the world returns to normal, so too will deadly outcomes because of overdoses. 

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