Drug overdoses rise as COVID surges, creates deadly health crisis in greater Cleveland

Cleveland EMS and Police respond to a drug overdose on the East Side
Cleveland EMS and Police respond to a drug overdose on the East Side(WOIO)
Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 10:39 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - As COVID-19 numbers surge in Cleveland and beyond, there is growing concern about the effect soaring cases are having on drug overdoses.

“The rising COVID numbers are very concerning just due to the fact that means there is going to be (fewer) options for people in recovery,” said Justlin Larson of Thrive Peer Support in Solon. “Recovery is all about community and having that sense of belonging. That’s very difficult to acquire when we’re forced to isolate and quarantine.”

According to Larson, very few treatment facilities accept patients who test positive for COVID-19.

“This recent trend of clustered overdoses is alarming,” Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson said last month. “It remains to be seen what the cause is, but the public should be aware that there is a serious threat to their lives if they are using street drugs right now in Cuyahoga County.”

His comments were made after issuing a public health alert due to a recent spike.

According to the latest county numbers, there have been 575 fatal drug overdoses this year.

There were 60, with 16 more suspected, in November alone.

“The holidays can be very stressful and overwhelming and depressing,” Larson told 19 News.

Fentanyl overdoses have become the number one killer of Americans aged 18-45.

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