Drug overdose rises 203%, scientific supervisor blames COVID-19 and fentanyl

MOORHEAD, Minn. (Valley News Live) – The valley drug overdose problem continues to grow, and the latest sign surfaced in the Fargo Police Department’s crime report shows a staggering 203% increase in drug overdoses.

“We’ve been very busy here at Beth’s Place,” said Sequoia Harmon, an addiction counselor.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, owner of Beth’s Place, an addiction treatment center in Moorhead, Cassie Kasowski, said the number of overdoses she is seeing has increased.

“All we teach in treatment is not to isolate,” said Kasowski, “obviously we had to isolate due to COVID restrictions. Meetings were canceled and many people were unemployed. The lack of income put additional pressure on the household. We had a lot of people who were isolated. “

Kasowski said the problem with isolation is that structure is very important, whether you’re new to recovery or relapse. She said COVID and social distancing took a lot of the structure that people with addictions need.

However, she said it wasn’t just social distancing that hurt those who sought treatment or were in recovery.

“It’s a combination of politics and COVID, but I also think it’s this new era that we’re experiencing and we’ve seen a trend over the past 3-5 years that is the street drug of adding fentanyl,” said Kasowski.

She said the biggest increase was in the 18-25 age group.

“Children are experimenting with Percocet, they are experimenting with Xanax, they are experimenting with drugs that 9/10 their parents will have prescriptions for,” said Kasowski. “If you buy it on the street or buy it at a party and your friend says, ‘Let’s try this and step this up a bit,’ then she’s likely going to get caught by one agent and many agents we see will be fentanyl.”

Kasowski said more services need to be available to give people the help they need and to reverse this frightening trend.

“It is an epidemic that I think people have been dealing with for a long time, and unfortunately we cannot hesitate our way out of it,” said Kasowski, “we need to set up more services and improve access to care.” to deal with it, to help these children or young adults who have problems and to bring them into care … this is the only way they will recover. “

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