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Trends in Drug Overdose Mortality in Ohio During the First 7 Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with excess deaths relative to existing trends.1 Because drug overdoses are a leading cause of death, it is important to investigate the general time-series pattern of overdose deaths during the pandemic. While there have been reports of increased overdoses in 2020,2 other evidence suggests that overdose deaths, especially those due to fentanyl, were increasing before the pandemic.3 Because national data lag data available at the local level, the use of local data is important to examine how closely increases in overdose deaths in 2020 tracked the course of the pandemic.

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Article Information

Accepted for Publication: March 1, 2021.

Published: April 14, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.7112

Correction: This article was corrected on May 21, 2021, to fix the youngest age category in the Methods section and the key to Figure 2.

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2021 Currie JM et al. JAMA Network Open.

Corresponding Author: Janet M. Currie, PhD, Center for Health and Wellbeing Princeton University, 185A Julis Romo Rabinowitz Bldg, Princeton, NJ 08540 (jcurrie@princeton.edu).

Author Contributions: Dr Currie had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: All authors.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: All authors.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: All authors.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Zhang reported being an evaluator and contractor with the US Department of Veteran Affairs Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. No other disclosures were reported.

References
1.
Faust  JS , Krumholz  HM , Du  C ,  et al.  All-cause excess mortality and COVID-19–related mortality among US adults aged 25-44 years, March-July 2020.   JAMA. 2021;325(8):785-787. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.24243 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
2.
Ochalek  TA , Cumpston  KL , Wills  BK , Gal  TS , Moeller  FG .  Nonfatal opioid overdoses at an urban emergency department during the COVID-19 pandemic.   JAMA. 2020;324(16):1673-1674. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.17477 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
3.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdose deaths accelerating during COVID-19. December 17, 2020. Accessed January 2, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p1218-overdose-deaths-covid-19.html
4.
Ohio Department of Public Health. Ohio Public Health Information Warehouse: mortality. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://publicappstst.odh.ohio.gov/EDW/DataBrowser/Browse/Mortality
5.
Wilson  N , Kariisa  M , Seth  P , Smith  H  IV , Davis  NL .  Drug and opioid-involved overdose deaths—United States, 2017-2018.   MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;69(11):290-297. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6911a4 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
6.
Czeisler  MÉ , Lane  RI , Petrosky  E ,  et al.  Mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 Pandemic—United States, June 24-30, 2020.   MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;69(32):1049-1057. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6932a1 PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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