WATCH – Bridge over troubled waters –
August 18, 2020 – In Clark County, Nevada fentanyl-related deaths have jumped 125% compared to this point last year, according to data from Southern Nevada Health District. In 2019 there were 64 deaths, and so far this year there have been 63 fentanyl-related deaths.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that the distress caused by COVID-19 is shifting people more into having addiction disorders, is worsening those that have it and is blocking people from being able to maintain recovery,” Dr. Paul Earley, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, said. Treatment facilities were forced to either shut down or implement social distancing measures, including wearing masks, limiting visitations, and holding sessions over ZOOM rather than in-person due to fears of spreading the virus – all but eliminating that human element that health experts say is crucial in the recovery process.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is the perfect storm,” Earley told Fox News. “Addiction treatment requires human interaction and hope and we’ve had to stop the interactions associated with addiction treatment.” Dr. Mel Pohl, chief medical officer at Las Vegas Recovery Center, had to close its treatment facility to anybody but patients and staff during the height of the pandemic and only recently started welcoming community members back to hold meetings, who will wear masks and social distance.
“I worry for patients and their families, how they’re going to sustain through these times,” Dr. Pohl, said, noting that the 12 step recovery program, which is “one of the fundamental community resources for addiction” is still virtual. “Being online is not the same as being a person, you know, touching somebody and hugging them and commiserating face to face. It’s just not the same thing as being on a computer.”