Following the outbreak of COVID-19, cases of opioid use disorder (OUD) have surged nationwide. The development of narcotic dependence often begins with the usage of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, but in severe cases, victims eventually turn to illicit substances such as heroin or fentanyl to continue functioning. COVID-19 has exacerbated the likelihood of severe addiction developing. Recent accounts from healthcare workers shed new light on how the pandemic has restricted the availability of OUD treatment, which most of the current medical scholarship has not addressed. By quantitatively analyzing the relationship between COVID-19 and OUD case numbers along with evaluating the opinions of professionals in various medical journals, a clear depiction of the current state of the opioid crisis is revealed. In a world that remains dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, practices such as isolation and quarantine are becoming the “new normal,” pushing many towards increased substance-use as a form of coping. Furthermore, the process of receiving addiction treatment has become more complicated for those already suffering from OUD. For instance, in-person intervention and counseling groups made the required shift towards virtual environments such as telehealth, which is not always an accessible format for OUD patients. By analyzing how methods of addiction treatment have been impacted, this research aims to spread awareness of the “hidden epidemic” that is opioid addiction. While COVID-19 remains the primary concern of public health organizations worldwide, it is imperative that the opioid crisis and its millions of victims are not overshadowed by the looming pandemic.
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DeRosalia, Frank, "The Hidden Epidemic: The Unforeseen Impacts of COVID-19 on the Treatment of Opioid Addiction" (2022). Research Days Posters 2022. 46.