The COVID-19 Pandemic and Opioid Use

lady wearing a mask during the pandemic

Preliminary research shows that opioid use during the pandemic has increased across the United States. The New York Times collected provisional drug overdose death data from the pandemic and saw the number of opioid-related deaths rise. A Siena College Research Institute survey found that 92% of New York opioid addiction professionals say opioid use has increased since the pandemic started.

What do these statistics mean for someone with opioid addiction or their loved ones? People with opioid use disorder need more support for their personal wellness and recovery. Find out how you can get access to support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Does the Pandemic Affect People With Opioid Use Disorder?

Many people who have opioid use disorder need to take extra care. If you are struggling with an opioid addiction, the pandemic may create these risks for your recovery:

  • Possible increased risk of COVID-19 complications: Opioid use affects lung and heart health, possibly leading to an increased risk of complications due to COVID-19.
  • Higher potential for triggers: Increased emotional and financial stress can result in more frequent urges to use opioids.
  • More difficulty accessing care: Environmental exposure risks and lower patient capacity in health care can make it harder for some patients to access treatment.

What Are Care Providers Doing to Help Patients During the Pandemic?

You can still access treatment safely thanks to ongoing regulatory measures. Health authorities and addiction clinics have worked together during the pandemic to improve safe access to care with these changes in regulations:

  • Medication in advance: Depending on your progress in recovery, your provider may permit you to take home two to four weeks of methadone treatment to reduce your exposure.
  • Prescriptions via televisit: If you plan to enter a buprenorphine treatment program, your doctor can evaluate you over the phone during the pandemic.
  • Remote mental health services: Under telemedicine regulations, many patients can also receive opioid addiction therapy remotely.

How Can I Take Care of Myself During the Pandemic if I Have an Opioid Addiction?

In addition to receiving support from your medical team, you can practice self-care and reach out to your support system. With the extra challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can take these steps to improve your chance of recovery success:

  • Find ways to manage stress: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has resources on managing stress during the pandemic.
  • Stay in touch with your loved ones: Keep an open line of communication with the people you care about to manage any feelings of isolation.
  • Keep yourself safe from COVID-19: Do your best to protect yourself from COVID-19 using advice from the CDC.

Find an Opioid Addiction Treatment Center Near You

With medical support, a person with opioid addiction can work toward recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you or a loved one wants to begin medication-assisted treatment (MAT), find a BAART Programs clinic near you. Our location listings also include our network partners who serve patients across the United States.