Drug overdose deaths hit all-time high in US; local therapists report uptick in new clients

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Many people have struggled in the pandemic, and for some, that has meant addiction to drugs.

Drug overdose deaths reached an all-time high in 2020.

On Friday, 8 News Now spoke to a therapist who says this is the busiest they have ever been.

While many are feeling a little bit of normalcy now that the vaccine is available, there is still so much uncertainty and stress, making it very hard for most people to cope.

Owner and therapist Sam Richardson of Las Vegas Therapy says since opening his doors three years ago, new clients are now coming in every day.

“Pretty much any substance you can use to distract or try to not feel something. That’s what people are turning to numb away from these things,” said Richardson. “We have definitely seen an uptick in mental health problems.”

According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths rose by close to 30% in the United States in 2020, hitting the highest number ever recorded.

Here in Nevada, the Department of Health and Human Services reports that accidental drug overdose deaths in Nevada increased 37% from the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020.

“Majority of the casework that we do is really focused on the trauma, falls, drug overdoses and things of that nature and then you have the component of suicide deaths,” said Clark County Coroner Melanie Rouse.

In Nevada, fentanyl overdoses nearly tripled in the first part of 2020. Many people who use these drugs start out with prescriptions and then the addiction takes off from there.

As for ways to help, reporting any type of behavior that seems off is vital and surrounding yourself with people is key.

“When the stress comes in, you need to turn to somebody, and you don’t need to do it on your own,” Richardson said.

Crisis Support Services of Nevada is available to help, along with Las Vegas Therapy and several other specialists across the valley.

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