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Overdose deaths on the rise amid pandemic, new drugs and lack of face-to-face contact to blame

Drug overdoses are one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
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Posted at 5:00 AM, Oct 29, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — Drug overdoses are one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Studies show a rise across the country in overdose deaths and, according to, Marion County is seeing a 47% rise in overdose deaths since the stay-at-home orders were put in place.

“With looking and seeking recovery, there has to be connection, and we have had mandates for there not to be connection,” said Justin Beattey, director of training at Mental Health America of Indiana.

Along with the lack of face-to-face interactions amid the pandemic, Beattey tells WRTV that new drugs are on the streets.

“We've recently found here in Indiana there's three new synthetic opioids that have hit the street that aren't showing up on fentanyl test,” said Beattey.

He said since the pandemic started, they have noticed an increase in overdose deaths.

“People are crafty. They're going to find ways to get around stuff, so I mean this is going to continue to happen till we look at the deeper root of that connection and making everybody feel supported with the resources available to them,” said Beattey.

The best way to combat this Beattey said is with compassion and letting users know the available resources. He said they have trained more than 500 behavioral health professionals since May.

“We switched in March to a new culture that wasn't existing in behavioral health of the digital format, so we had to make sure people know how to support people through a computer screen telephonically,” said Beattey.

As someone in long term recovery, Beattey said seeing people make small changes towards the road to recovery makes even the tough days’ worth it.

“To watch someone kind of just not even get to that point where there smiling yet I start to see this shoulder shrug a little bit less you start to see that little pick up in their voice you know those kinds of things to really hear that hey I know positive change is available for me and I think this might be something I can do,” said Beattey.

If you want to learn more about getting the training to help or the resources available to you or a family member in need, click here.