Dr. Andrew Kolodny:
So, we understand that most of these deaths are occurring in people who are addicted, not in individuals who are saying, gee, using heroin or fentanyl would be a fun thing to do.
These are people who are really suffering and who need help. And, unfortunately, it’s been much easier for these individuals to access heroin or fentanyl than to access effective treatment.
And it does appear that, as COVID hit, the ability to access effective treatment for opioid addiction became even more difficult. So, if someone’s waking up in the morning, and they’re already feeling sick, and they know that, if they use heroin or fentanyl, they can start to feel better, that’s what they’re going to do, rather than seek treatment.
The other problem has been, for people who are opioid-addicted, we know that psychosocial distress, social isolation can contribute to relapse. And years ago, a slip or a relapse might not be the end of the world. But now all it takes is one slip. With such a dangerous illicit opioid supply, one slip can easily lead to an overdose death.