Ohio AG warns opioid epidemic is getting worse during the pandemic

Overdose deaths worse in last months of 2020
Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 5:18 AM EST
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MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost warns the opioid epidemic is getting worse during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many recovery community groups say they hope their fight isn’t forgotten.

Kristina Sims will never forget the call from her mother several months ago.

“All I could do was scream get the Narcan, do whatever you could, my parents had resuscitated him with Narcan before,” Kristina Sims said.

But it was too late for her 28-year-old brother Anthony, who died from an overdose in April, after years of struggling with substance abuse.

“Dealing with the pandemic, we’ve never been through this before. I know they anxiety and the stress that I feel everyday, I couldn’t imagine having these stressors, having to battle that addiction every day,” Sims said.

According to Attorney General Dave Yost’s office, more Ohioans died of an opioid overdose in 3 months in 2020 than at any time since the pandemic began.

In the last few months of the year, Ohio saw the highest rate of overdose deaths in the last 10 years, with southern counties Scioto, Franklin, and Fayette were hit the hardest.

Stephanie Robinson, the executive director of Hope Recovery Community, says with a pandemic combined with the ongoing opioid epidemic the numbers aren’t surprising but discouraging.

“We knew May was bad, but now December is the highest on record this year and those numbers lags so those numbers will increase most likely,” Robinson said.

She says they’ve seen a lot of people relapse during the pandemic.

“This is a hard time for us to get through. I’m 12 years in recovery myself and this has been a very difficult time,” Robinson said.

She says many people don’t realize resources are out there and available during the pandemic.

“People don’t think there’s like help available. Detox is available, residential treatment is available, recovery housing is available. There are meetings to be found some are just on Zoom, there’s also in-person options,” Robinson said.

Sims said she hopes families and those struggling never give up hope.

Attorney General Yost and several other attorney generals are now asking the FDA for a progress report on its efforts to use its powers granted by the SUPPORT ACT.

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