Drug Overdose Deaths Hit Record Numbers During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Other Epidemic West Virginia
Morning fog blankets a cemetery in Huntington, W.Va., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Huntington was once ground-zero for this opioid epidemic. Several years ago, they formed a team that within days visits everyone who overdoses to try to pull them back from the brink. It was a hard-fought battle, but it worked. The county's overdose rate plummeted. They wrestled down an HIV cluster. They finally felt hope. Then the pandemic arrived and it undid much of their effort: overdoses shot up again, so did HIV diagnoses. David Goldman / AP Photo
The Other Epidemic West Virginia
Morning fog blankets a cemetery in Huntington, W.Va., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Huntington was once ground-zero for this opioid epidemic. Several years ago, they formed a team that within days visits everyone who overdoses to try to pull them back from the brink. It was a hard-fought battle, but it worked. The county's overdose rate plummeted. They wrestled down an HIV cluster. They finally felt hope. Then the pandemic arrived and it undid much of their effort: overdoses shot up again, so did HIV diagnoses. David Goldman / AP Photo

Drug Overdose Deaths Hit Record Numbers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Overdose deaths in the U.S. spiked to a record 93,000 last year, according to new federal data.

Opioids are at the heart of these tragedies. Reset asks two experts to explain the factors driving these deaths and what can be done about it.

GUESTS: Dr. Steven Aks, chief of toxicology at Cook County Health; emergency room physician at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital

Sheila Vakharia, social worker, deputy director of research and academic engagement at Drug Policy Alliance