GREENSBORO, N.C. — In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an increase in drug overdose deaths in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 20,000 more overdose deaths in 2020 compared to just a year prior.
News 2 spoke with a Drug and Alcohol Recovery Center about the alarming numbers and what they are seeing here in the Triad.
The President and CEO of Fellowship Hall says the pandemic has made it difficult for folks to access the care they need. In the past 17 months the center has seen a decline in patients coming in for help.
"People have lost their healthcare. People have lost finances. People have lost their jobs. People have gotten sick. People have been deathly afraid of going to the hospital," said Mike Yow.
He says the amount of opioid overdose deaths is a huge issue, but it's not the only one. "The amount of death that's happened because of alcohol abuse, cocaine overdoses are up. Methamphetamine and overdoses are up. Mental health crises in general are up."
Over the past year, he says the amount of need for patients to access care and the availability for treatment is a tremendous problem. "Substance abuse providers have closed in the past year. Another 30 to 40 percent are on the verge of altering programs or making cuts and closing because of financial impact. The statistics go on and on."
A psychiatrist with Novant Health says since the pandemic has had a major impact on gathering in person, virtual sessions can also be difficult for patients. "Get above six people in a Zoom call, you can't hear each other. You lose that spontaneity of communication and stuff. It's a little bit harder," said Dr. Michael Clark.
Fellowship Hall's President and CEO says while the pandemic has made it difficult, as vaccines continue to be distributed they hope for a sense of normalcy again.
While Fellow Ship Hall has remained open, they tell News they are also working on other tools to continue to serve their patients.