A new study by Ohio researchers found that the record number of opioid-related deaths in the state coincided with the delivery of COVID-19 stimulus checks.
The study was conducted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science and used data from the Ohio Department of Health to determine that the stark increase in deaths began after the first stimulus checks were delivered.
Ohio experienced more opioid-related deaths in the second quarter of 2020 than the state has seen since 2010, according to a news release from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
Rise In Opioid Deaths Related To The Flow Of Stimulus Checks
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 100,000 Americans died due to an opioid overdose from April 2020 to April 2021, a 28 percent increase from the previous year. This was the highest recorded amount of opioid-related deaths since 1999 when the CDC began tracking data about the opioid epidemic.
The data showed an increase in deaths related to overdoses to fentanyl, meth, and cocaine.
“The link between pandemic relief money and opioid overdose deaths is now evident,” Yost said in the news release. “The intent was to help Americans navigate this deadly pandemic but it also fueled a tidal wave of overdoses.”
Researchers discovered that the rate of opioid-related deaths was significantly higher after the first 16 weeks of 2020. A deeper analysis found that more than 203 deaths occurred weekly between weeks 17-32 of 2020. The first stimulus check started being delivered in April 2020.
The researchers wrote that the start of the global pandemic along with the opioid epidemic created a “perfect storm” for individuals with opioid use disorder and those more susceptible to the stressors caused by COVID-19.