The Center for Disease Control [CDC] keeps track of both reported and predicted overdose deaths for each state.
Between December 2019 and December 2020, states like Texas saw an increase of more than 30 percent, in regards to predicted and recorded drug overdose deaths.
Though data sets are incomplete, as noted by the CDC report, the data presented indicates that approximately 1,000 more Texans died from drug overdoses in 2020 than did in 2019.
Todd Dugas is a licensed social worker and clinical director of the local resource known as More Than Rehab, a treatment center which provides inpatient and outpatient services for those who are battling addictions.
Dugas says his rehab facility and others across the state have seen an increase in clients since the onset of the pandemic. Many of these individuals have felt an increased sense of isolation, which aggravates their struggle with addiction.
Clients also struggle to maintain healthy boundaries with family members when in quarantine.
"When someone is in your family system and actively using and you’re leaving the home, you have a reprieve from the behavior," Dugas said. "But if you have to stay in quarantine together, you can’t get away from the person. Now it’s a threat to your children, your parents, and yourself, that we haven’t seen before. Many people are seeking treatment now for various reasons, but for a lot of them it’s because they don’t have a place to go.”
Those struggling with addiction may have had more access to prescription medication over the course of the pandemic, Dugas noted. These substances are abused while experiencing stressors such as unemployment.
Dugas said his own path to sobriety has relied on what addicted persons need long term: continued support from the community, though structured group meetings or religious resources. He hopes these opportunities can increase in the Brazos Valley, as organizations such as his offer structured rehab for only months at a time.
"Even people in long term recovery, they became isolated," he repeated. "They didn’t have their normal schedules, resources and patterns in their recovery. They couldn’t attend meeting and meet with other people... At the same time, I was in meetings with people all over the world. I had a weekly meeting I made with men in recovery, and we had someone from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. So that was something more productive and good about the pandemic.”
For more information on the More Than Rehab facility, those interested can visit morethanrehab.com. The Brazos Valley Council on Alcohol & Substance Abuse [BVCASA] also offers resources for those struggling with substance abuse and dependencies. They can be reached at BVCASA.org.