New study shows link between opioid overdoses and COVID-19 stimulation checks
A new study by researchers in Ohio has found that the record number of opioid-related deaths in the state coincided with the delivery of COVID-19 stimulus checks.
The study, conducted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science, used data from the Ohio Department of Health to determine that the sharp rise in deaths began after the first few were delivered. stimulus checks.
Ohio saw more opioid-related deaths in the second quarter of 2020 than the state has seen since 2010, according to a press release from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 100,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses from April 2020 to April 2021, a 28% increase from the previous year. This is the highest number of opioid-related deaths recorded since 1999, when the CDC began tracking data on the opioid epidemic.
The data also showed an increase in overdose deaths linked to fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines.
“The link between pandemic relief money and opioid overdose deaths is now clear,” Yost said in the press release. “The intent was to help Americans through this deadly pandemic, but it also fueled a tidal wave of overdoses.”
The researchers found that the rate of opioid-related deaths was significantly higher after the first 16 weeks of 2020. Further analysis revealed that more than 203 deaths occurred each week between weeks 17 and 32 of 2020. The first stimulus test started delivering in April 2020.
The researchers wrote that the onset of the global pandemic along with the opioid epidemic created a “perfect storm” for people with opioid use disorder and those more susceptible to stressors caused by COVID-19.
Some stressors included social isolation, loss of housing or income, and reduced availability of harm reduction strategies and medication. The researchers found that middle-aged, low-income white men were the socioeconomic group most likely to overdose on drugs.
“The link between the timing of assistance payments and drug overdose deaths reflects a phenomenon known as the ‘control effect,'” the authors wrote. “The control effect was associated with higher numbers of drug overdose deaths, hospital admissions, and 911 calls in the days and weeks associated with income assistance payments.”
The “control effect” is a term over a decade old that refers to people using disability benefits or government subsidies to buy illegal drugs or alcohol.
“Throwing money at a problem isn’t always the best solution,” Yost wrote. “Let the data guide you to learn from the past. Addiction is a disease you cannot cure with just money.”