In a paper published Friday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, Virginia Commonwealth University researchers released data showing an alarming surge in opioid-related overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonfatal opioid overdose visits to the VCU Medical Center emergency department in Richmond increased from 102 between March and June 2019 to 227 between March and June 2020. That’s an increase of 123%.
The overdose increase occurred during a time when the emergency room was experiencing a lower-than-average number of visits overall. March through June visits in 2020 were down 29% from the same time last year.
The study’s lead author, Taylor Ochalek, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at the VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research, analyzed the 2019 and 2020 data from VCU Medical Center’s emergency department.
“Social isolation, job loss, the inaccessibility of community resources — these could all contribute to