Drug abuse and overdoses spike during pandemic, but help is available

Posted at 6:23 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 20:39:25-04

A mental health and substance abuse therapist says drug abuse has increased since the start of the pandemic.

"We're not alone in this. We are in this together and there's a lot of help available," said Dayry Hulkow, a primary therapist at Vista Pines Health.

Hulkow says since the pandemic began, drug abuse has increased and many are now relapsing.

"Feelings like boredom, loneliness, isolation, those are your huge triggers when it comes to addiction and particularly relapse, where people are highly dependent on self-help groups like A.A. and N.A.," she said.

According to real-time data obtained by the Washington Post, suspected overdoses are on the rise compared to 2019 with an 18% increase in March, 29% increase in April and 42% increase in May.

Hulkow says many who turn to drugs or alcohol often feel they have no control over what's happening right now.

"So the one thing that we do have the power to control is the choices that we're making in this moment," Hulkow explained.

Another point of concern?

Hulkow says deadly overdoses are increasing because evidence shows drug dealers are tainting drugs with cheaper additives.

"They lace it with synthetic drugs, more recently we've seen fentanyl, which is a synthetic opiate and it's 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine so it's very dangerous," she explained.

Hulkow recommends you need to take care of yourself now more than ever. He said you should exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthy, stay connected to others and reach out before it's too late.

"The most important thing is whatever the struggle, whatever the situation, I know there's a lot of helplessness and hopelessness going around but whatever that may be for each person that they don't have to face it alone. There is help. There are many different resources regardless of financial status. There's a lot of help available out there. The most important thing is to reach out and ask for help," she said.

There are many resources out there to help with addiction for you or a family member.

  • Delphi Behavioral Health Group is offering free services to help those cope. Go to for more information.
  • Other non-profit groups have virtual meetings available, no fees or dues, and educational material including Narcotics Anonymous. Check out,
  • Al-Anon is for family and friends, who know someone addicted and need help.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous can be found here, https://Www.Aa.Org/
  • Alateen, a fellowship of young people, whose lives have been affected by someone else's drinking is also found through A.A.
  • Co-dependents Anonymous can be found here: