Overdose risk has increased during pandemic, experts say

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – Aug. 31 is International Drug Overdose Awareness Day, and experts in the field of mental health are seeing a disturbing trend during this pandemic: drug overdose cases increasing at an alarming rate.

Addiction specialist Dayry Hulkow, with Delphi Behavioral Health in Pembroke Pines, said reports of drug overdoses increased by 18 percent in March, 29 percent in April and 42 percent in May.

Hulkow said the numbers reveal that even while the economy is reopening, people still feel the need to turn to drugs for relief.

“A lot of the triggers that are widespread right now are isolation, a lot of loneliness, a lot of boredom, not having availability to self support groups, access to services, outpatient services or home groups and different social networks that we have built over our lifetime, and now it’s changed, it’s shifted, it’s not readily available to go in person,” she said.

Hulkow said the loss of jobs has also led to a loss of health insurance to cover mental health costs, but she reminds patients that there are free help lines and online meetings through organizations like AA.

Also in today’s health news, research shows that young adults who are obese could cut their death risk in half by losing weight, even if it’s a shift to being overweight, rather than obese.

Researchers found that the shift from obese to overweight reduced mortality by 54 percent.

The results suggest that the harmful effects of obesity can be reversed and that over 3 percent of the deaths related to obesity could be avoided and the reduction in mortality could be even greater if a healthy weight was achieved by midlife.

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