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Ohio County Sees 'Catastrophic' Rise in Opioid Deaths, Coroner Says COVID Is Culprit

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The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone in some way after descending upon civilization with full force, but the mental health crisis it has created has also been deadly.

Franklin County, Ohio has seen a sharp increase in deaths from overdose since the start of COVID-19, prompting the local coroner to inform residents of these grim facts.

Dr. Anahi Ortiz said the opioid epidemic affecting Franklin County has been "catastrophic" and it's directly connected with the coronavirus. "By the first six months of 2020, current data shows that we saw a 73.4 percent increase in overdose fatalities in Franklin County," Dr. Ortiz pointed out. 

"I think the anxiety and depression that has come from COVID-19 has exacerbated addiction in a number of ways," she added. "Thinking about families who already have the anxiety and isolation from COVID-19 and their loved one has just died from addiction, that's just a tremendous burden to bear."

Dr. Ortiz explained that 85% of the overdose deaths were fentanyl-related.

"Then you have folks who perhaps because they became unemployed, etc., may have not been able to buy their usual, and then when they do get some money, they start using again, and they start at the same doses they were taking previously, and that's when they die," Ortiz added.

She noted that Franklin County has launched training events where locals learn how to use an opioid-reversal medication called Narcan as officials have worked to help residents receive treatment and resources.

Ultimately, patients must understand the associated risks when taking opioid-related medications, and that knowledge could help prevent some addiction before it begins. 

CBN News previously reported on other mental instabilities linked to the coronavirus pandemic, such as the rise in suicide, anxiety, and depression.

In August, the CDC released a report revealing that 25.5 percent of Americans age 18 to 24 had seriously considered suicide with the past 30 days. For adults ages 25 to 44, that percentage was 16 percent.

Anxiety and depression among younger adults, women, and the poor have been the highest. Data collected by the Census Bureau showed that a third of Americans were exhibiting signs of anxiety, depression, or both.

If you're dealing with mental health issues during the pandemic like suicidal thoughts, addiction, and depression, support groups and helplines are available to assist you. CBN telephone counselors are available to pray with you at 1-800-700-7000.

The Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255. The National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America can be contacted by clicking here.

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About The Author

Andrea Morris

Andrea Morris is a Features Producer for The 700 Club. She came to CBN in 2019 where she worked as a web producer in the news department for three years. Her passion was always to tell human interest stories that would touch the hearts of readers while connecting them with God. She transitioned into her new role with The 700 Club in August 2022.