Opioid use and deaths climb during COVID-19 pandemic

By May of 2020, the U.S. hit the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period

Before the COVID-19 pandemic we had a different public-health crisis on our hands. New Jersey and the nation were in the grip of a rising opioid epidemic, with tens of thousands of lives lost to drug overdose.

In New Jersey, the opioid epidemic is to blame for 3,000 overdose deaths in 2020. Factors like isolation, job loss, and increased anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic have been pointed to as contributing to substance use problems. But fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s up to 100 times stronger than heroin, is being blamed for many of the deaths. Correspondent Joanna Gagis reports.