U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Resurge to Record During the Pandemic

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U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Resurge to Record During the Pandemic

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22 October 2020: U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Resurge to Record During the Pandemic

Drug overdose deaths in the USA rose to a record high in 2019, after falling for the first time for 25 years in 2018. Almost 72,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2019 according to the preliminary data that was released by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this year.

Though there is currently no hard data available, there is speculation that the pandemic is complicating and worsening the surge, as 2020 looks to be even more devastating than 2019. Data collected by The New York Times saw for the first half of 2020 drug overdose deaths have risen by an average of 13 percent across America compared to last year. If this trend continues into the rest of the year, it will be the sharpest rise in annual drug deaths since 2016, when fentanyl made its way into US drug trafficking and street supply.

Increased funding toward addiction treatment, prevision and recovery services did shows signs of improving overdose deaths. Though the government has made this positive headway in the last few years in how they tackle the drug epidemic in America, this progress could be threatened by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier in the month, Brett Giroir, the administration’s assistant secretary for health, said in a statement, “We understand that there is an extraordinary amount of work to do, especially now as we are also dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic that could markedly affect our nation’s mental health and risk of substance use.”

Several public health experts said conditions created by the pandemic could hurt the nation’s fragile progress in fighting the surge of drug deaths but noted that the overdose rate was on its way back up well before the virus arrived. “Covid just makes it a bit worse,” said Dr. Dan Ciccarone, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies the opioid epidemic. “It’s a small wave riding on top of a tsunami that continues to devastate.”

Although official statistics on 2020 overdose deaths won’t be available for a long time, there is local evidence showing drug related deaths are rising into 2020.

Increase in Drug related deaths from 2019 through the first portion of 2020

Though a lot of this data precedes the coronavirus pandemic, researchers believe there are several reasons why the virus could worsen the trend.

When state lockdowns first began in March, Dr. Anna Lembke, a clinician with Stanford’s Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, noticed many of her patients showing signs of improving. “Many patients described a kind of peacefulness without the constant hubbub of modern life and the constant triggers they’re exposed to,” she said.

However, in response to the virus, the US government has done something unheard-of: it relaxed rules and regulations around prescribing methadone and buprenorphine, two commonly prescribed opioid addiction treatments. Patients no longer needed to attend daily in person appointments to receive their methadone prescriptions and could instead be given 4 weeks’ worth at a time. Doctors no longer need to meet in person to prescribe buprenorphine.

This was initially celebrated as a positive change, however as the pandemic has progressed and people have remained isolated, lockdown has become harmful to people with mental health issues and drug addiction disorders.

“Social isolation has always been a huge component of drug overdose risk,” said Traci Green, an epidemiologist at Brown University who studies drug abuse and addiction. “So much of what we’ve been trying to do has been completely unravelled.”

Experts have pointed to other dangers lockdown poses such as;

  • Lack of revival fall back from other users due to an increase in solo drug users
  • Less emotional support as in person visits are scaled back
  • Inconsistent drug strength and quality
  • Supply or income disruption leading to inconsistent drug use habits and accidental overdose

 

Randox Toxicology

Using our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, the Evidence MultiSTAT is a fully automated benchtop analyser that enables onsite, simultaneous testing for up to 21 classical, synthetic or prescription drugs from a single sample in under 20 minutes. This quick and highly reliable technology makes it perfect for use in hospitals and medical centres, as pressure increases with the rising number of drug overdose deaths in the US.

 

To find out more about our Biochip Array Technology and our Evidence Series range of analysers, visit www.randoxtoxicology.com or email info@randoxtoxicology.com

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Italian Authorities Seize Over $1B Worth of Amphetamines Originating From Syria

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23 September August 2020: Italian Authorities Seize Over $1B Worth of Amphetamines Originating From Syria

Italian police intercepted and seized 14 tons of amphetamines with a street value of approximately $1.15 billion at the Italian port of Salerno in early July. This huge shipment was suspected to have originated from Syria before being transported to the base of a notorious European crime organisation in Naples.

‘Largest seizure of amphetamines in the world’

In video footage the Italian Financial Guard military force posted to their Twitter account, authorities can be seen using electric saws to cut through 6-foot-high cylinders in shipping containers. The Customs Police Col. Domenico Napolitano called the discovery the largest seizure of amphetamines in the world after finding over 85 million pills inside the cylinders.

Syria Identified as One of the Largest Producers of Amphetamines in the World

Syria has become one of the world’s largest producers of amphetamines in recent years, and with production and distribution of such drugs in Europe appearing to have slowed down during the pandemic, the same cannot be said for Syria. As such, authorities are suspecting that crime organisations are placing orders and smuggling drugs from Syria into Europe.

Randox Toxicology

Randox Toxicology are helping to fight drug trafficking by continually investing in new technologies to aid in the rapid and large-scale screening for drugs of abuse. We are world leaders in drug testing solutions with the capability of detecting over 500 drug and drug metabolites using our innovative Biochip Array Technology – the most comprehensive on the drug testing market. Our patented Biochip Array Technology works across a variety of matrices including whole blood, urine and oral fluid.

Using our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, the Evidence MultiSTAT is a fully automated benchtop analyser that enables onsite, simultaneous testing for up to 21 classical, synthetic or prescription drugs from a single sample in under 20 minutes. This quick and highly reliable technology makes it perfect for use in non-laboratory settings for people with no lab experience.

 

To find out more about our Biochip Array Technology and our Evidence Series range of analysers, visit www.randoxtoxicology.com or email info@randoxtoxicology.com

 

Randox Toxicology Products and Services

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Rise in Lockdown Drug Use Linked to Mental Health Issues

News       About Us        Randox Toxicology

19 August 2020: Rise in Lockdown Drug Use Linked to Mental Health Issues

A new survey has been published reporting on the devastating effects that nationwide and global lockdowns have had on people suffering with mental health issues and substance abuse.

The survey delves into not only what drugs are being taken, but also crucially, why people are resorting to substance abuse during lockdown. Benzodiazepines and cannabis reportedly  ‘greatly increased’ or ‘increased’ in use within the first 4 weeks of the pandemic. Approximately one in two people surveyed are taking drugs currently; a sharp increase from one in five people before the pandemic.

 

Anxiety, loneliness and stress

The majority of respondents (71%) reported that they are still using drugs for fun, however there was also a significant rise in those reporting their reason for drug use as a way to cope with their mental health.

Mental health concerns that came up were; anxiety, loneliness, stress and escaping reality.  Previously when this survey was conducted before the pandemic, each of these elements of mental health were reported at around 20%. Now however, they are being reported in approximately 30-50% of respondents.

This is understandable, given the uncertainty of what lies ahead, and the fact that some will also be struggling with unemployment, money, relationships and self-confidence.

 

Reduced Health Care Options

Unfortunately, many health facilities have been operating at reduced capacity and have been unable to see patients due to the outbreak, meaning that people are indeed turning to drug use instead of professional medical help.

As countries begin to open back up again and resume more normal health care activities, they will almost certainly see a rise in people seeking treatment for drug use.

Using our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, the Evidence MultiSTAT is a fully automated benchtop analyser that enables onsite, simultaneous testing for up to 21 classical, synthetic or prescription drugs from a single sample in under 20 minutes.

To find out more about our Biochip Array Technology and our Evidence Series range of analysers, please visit randoxtoxicology.com or email info@randoxtoxicology.com

 

Randox Toxicology Products and Services

BIOCHIP

EVIDENCE

ELISA

MATRICES

Want to know more about Randox?

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