Overdose Awareness: The Pandemic’s Impact on Patients in America


It seems unfathomable that in the U.S. a person dies from overdose every six minutes, and the pandemic has only made it worse. Now, more than ever, America is experiencing a sharp increase in chemical dependencies, overdoses, and related fatalities.

The staggering increase has become even more alarming in the post-initial-pandemic period, as the toll of the lock-downs on mental health and sobriety are now becoming clear. Coping strategies for sobriety, anxiety, trauma and loss mostly involve community and connection, which were not possible under lockdowns.

Removal of coping mechanisms and insecurity about jobs, housing, and food gave way to an incremental rise in the numbers of overdose, recurrence of use, alcohol sales, and the increase in prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications for each month of the lockdown, as people struggled to cope in an uncertain world.


International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) occurs on the 31st of August each year. The day is set aside for remembering and reflecting on the lives and struggles of all those we’ve lost to drug overdoses and those who grieve them.

International Overdose Awareness Day’s mission is also to positively stimulate and encourage discussion, empathy, and education and so encourage a shift in policy change and public perception. It is making headway since its early conception in 2001, with more and more buildings and bridges lit purple each year.

By posting about it on social media, attending fundraisers, hosting a get-together of people who survived, or just by simply by wearing a purple ribbon, you can help break down the stigma and shame surrounding addiction, the recurrence of use, and of overdose and send a signal to those of us who have been touched by this epidemic that you see us and see our lost loved ones.


Increase in Chemical Dependence and Overdoses

This International Overdose Awareness Day may be more important than ever, with fatal overdose statistics increasing from 67,850 in 2018 to 92,452 (136%) in 2020.1 That’s one person every six minutes!

This means overdose deaths increased by almost 25,000 (37%) in the two years following the pandemic onset. This points to a serious issue that every rehab, counseling center, and recovery facility should address: relapse prevention and harm reduction protocols for a pandemic.

While relapse prevention relies heavily on the treatment programs offered by the rehab, harm reduction is a community effort. How can we effectively enact this in future lockdowns? How can we reach out effectively and safely?


Organizations That Can Help

Four organizations offering relapse and overdose prevention as well as harm reduction programs are listed below:


Never Use Alone

Never Use Alone protects anonymity and saves lives. Stay on the line while you use. You give your location but not your name. Should you become unresponsive at any time, they sent the EMTs. They have never lost a life!


End Overdose

End Overdose provides overdose reversal training and related services to individuals across the U.S. Through workshops, awareness events, and outreach programs, End Overdose aims to educate everyone on their options should they accidentally overdose on narcotics. Because, as they say: No One Else Has To Die



Lukelove Foundation offers free opioid overdose reversal training (Narcan Training) and free Narcan kits. Established by a mother who lost her son to an opioid overdose, their website provides Overdose Response Information and is a resource and contact for those who grieve through overdose.


Community Health Project LA

CHPLA offers overdose prevention services, outreach programs, and education to help people access health care and encourage the community to reduce harm in areas affected by drugs.


RecoverWell’s Mission to Reduce Overdoses

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RecoverWell matches people in need of substance use treatment to registered rehabs that suit their insurance, budget, needs, and personal preferences.

No two recovery journeys are the same, and RecoverWell understands the imperatives of specific personalized care. Streamlining access to treatment and addressing each patient’s needs, RecoverWell can significantly reduce the chances of a relapse or overdose.

RecoverWell supports harm reduction organizations and, together, we do everything possible to prevent an overdose from happening or becoming fatal. Request a free demo on our website or get in touch by calling us at 818-975-0113 today.


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm

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