Local health experts talk about pandemic drug addiction as overdoses rise

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW / WAGT) – The number of drug addictions has increased during the pandemic. The delta variant intensified this. Local health experts say that with so many patients, they fear this problem will worsen beyond the pandemic.

As the pandemic continues to fuel drug addiction, local health officials say they are seeing a huge amount of overdoses in their emergency department.

“When COVID was improving before the delta peak gave us that other surge, we were still seeing a lot of overdoses and a lot of substance-related issues,” said Daniel McColum.

McColum is an emergency department doctor and he says the second increase has increased the number of patients by about 20 percent.

“One of the dark sides of addiction is that it doesn’t go away once you get addicted,” he said.

He says the pandemic has already limited the number of institutions accepting new people and limited the number of beds. But with even more people facing new addictions and relapses, he says he envisions that peak lasting beyond the pandemic.

“It is even more difficult to bring people the help that is already too scarce,” he said. “I am concerned that we are witnessing a lot of drug addiction even as COVID improves. “

He says the first step to solving the problem is to increase immunizations, which allows for more resources.

“It has made it harder for people to get the help we love,” he said.

The next step is to take care of your mental health and not wait for things to escalate into depression and addiction.

“Before you start to feel suicidal, before you start relapsing with someone, we can always help you,” he said.

No matter where you live, whether you’re struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, there is help for you. There is a national hotline that can give you treatment options and advice. You can call them 24 hours a day even on holidays if you have any difficulties. This number is

Copyright 2021 WRDW / WAGT. All rights reserved.

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