Photo taken from Wikipedia, courtesy of Z28scrambler
The new coronavirus’s economic impacts may increase opioid usage in Washington Parish.
Washington Parish, a parish with the highest opioid-involved death rate in Louisiana and high prescription opioid rate, may be see an increase in opioid usage due to COVID-19’s economic ramifications, according to Executive Director Richard Kramer of Florida Parishes Human Services Authority.
Washington Parish has a depressed economy and lack of job options, said Kramer. The limited resources of Washington Parish are going to be stretched even further due to COVID-19, said Kramer.
“People are more likely to have more reason to be hopeless or turn to substances than before,” said Kramer.
Executive Director Thomas “Rusty” Fornea at ADAPT, Inc. said the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 can increase opioid usage in the parish. People are stuck at home with nothing to do, said Fornea.
Louisiana and Washington Parish have seen an increase in opioid-involved deaths over the years. Louisiana had 455 opioid-involved deaths in 2018, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Washington Parish accounted for 26 of those deaths. Opioid-involved deaths include opioid poisoning and deaths where opioids contributed to the death, according to the LDH.
High prescription rates are correlated with higher opioid deaths and use, said Kramer. Some people become addicted to opioid through prescriptions. With it harder to get prescription opioids, people may turn to illegal opioids, said Kramer.
Overall, the U.S., Louisiana and Washington Parish have seen a decrease in opioid prescription rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Louisiana’s and Washington Parish’s rates were higher than the national average in 2018.