While the COVID-19 pandemic was the foremost concern in the minds of most Americans during 2020, a different health crisis loomed in the shadows — opioid use disorder. With anxiety levels high and isolation an ever-present reality, national drug overdose deaths rose dramatically from just over 67,000 in 2018 to nearly 90,000 in 2020. Few places felt this acceleration more than Texas.
Opioid Overdose Statistics in Texas
The opioid epidemic has been sweeping the nation since the early 2000s. In 1999, the number of overdose deaths in Texas was in the hundreds. By October 2020, the number of people dead due to drug overdose was an overwhelming 4,107. In fact, between 2019 and 2020, there was a 30% increase in drug-related deaths.
Opioid use continues to be the primary driver of drug overdose deaths in Texas, with over half of all recorded overdose deaths attributed to prescription and illicit opioids.
Factors Contributing to the Texas Opioid Problem During the Pandemic
Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the existing opioid crisis in Texas. Throughout the state, there was an increase in the number of people in recovery who relapsed. A variety of factors contributed to the increase in opioid overdose risk in Texas.
Stress and Mental Health Issues
The spread of the coronavirus in Texas and beyond upended life in a way no one was prepared for. From self-quarantine to widespread lockdowns, increased social isolation had a significant impact on those struggling with opioid use disorder.
There is a large overlap between people struggling with addiction and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. While many suffered from stress and isolation during the pandemic, some individuals with mental illness sought out opioids to cope with their emotional toll as form of self-medication.
Stress is also a trigger in many people recovering from substance use. When you’re fighting addiction and you become stressed, the brain produces overwhelming cravings that can be difficult to withstand, which may account for the high number of relapse cases in 2020.
Loss of Life-Saving Addiction Services
Stringent COVID-19 restrictions made it harder for clinics to provide patients with the support and life-saving treatments they needed. Opioid treatment programs, counseling services and methadone clinics had to modify traditional access for a time to halt the spread of the virus. Many counseling appointments shifted to telecounseling sessions which are beneficial but can lack the interpersonal exchange of an in person session.
Spike in Fentanyl Use and Counterfeit Pills
Even before the pandemic began, Texas was experiencing an increase in overdoses caused by illicit fentanyl. Due to its relatively low cost and tremendous potency, this opioid has become a highly popular and dangerous street drug. Fentanyl variants can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine, putting users at much higher risk of overdose.
Another problem plaguing those struggling with opioid addiction in Texas is the prevalence of drugs laced with fentanyl. People buy what they think is oxycodone or another opioid, and it turns out to contain fentanyl. For some, it only takes one pill to experience an opioid overdose.
Texas Opioid Recovery at MedMark Treatment Centers
Medical professionals, government officials and communities across Texas are committed to helping those struggling with opioid addiction. MedMark offers life-saving medication-assisted treatment and compassionate counseling to help you break free from opioid use disorder. We are proud to have convenient locations across Texas where you can find the help you need to overcome opioid addiction. Contact one of our treatment facilities today to learn more.