COVID lockdowns are linked to the increase in overdose deaths

In a new study, researchers quantify how much pandemic safety measures and economic policies have affected overdose rates in the United States.

Drug overdoses skyrocketed in the United States during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 92,000 people died from overdoses in 2020. Public health experts worried early in the pandemic that lockdowns and other measures to control the spread of the virus could lead to more overdoses.

The new findings in the American Journal of Public Health provide answers to lawmakers and health leaders about future health policies and the unintended consequences of certain health measures, even if those measures were intended to save lives.

Douglas Wolf, Shannon Monnat, Emily Wiemers, Jennifer Karas Montez and Yue Sun of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University are the lead authors of the study.

Here, Wolf and Monnat discuss the work’s key findings:

Former graduate student Xue Zhang of Syracuse University and Elyse Grossman, scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, contributed to the work.

Source: Syracuse University

Original study DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2024.307621