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El Paso mirrors nation with rise in drug overdoses blamed on pandemic

EL PASO, Texas -- An El Paso doctor says the reason both nationwide and locally that we’ve seen a drastic rise in drug overdose deaths was due to people being forced to isolate during the pandemic.

"If you stay isolated for months in a row and you don't have contact with your family members, you don't have contact with your support system. If you have an alcohol or a drug problem then you start using and are not accountable to anyone,” Dr. Fabrizzio Delgado, a psychiatrist with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, said.

The U.s. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 93,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in 2020 nationwide. That averages out to more than 250 deaths each day or roughly 11 every hour.

It’s an increase of 29% from 2019. The biggest year-to-year jump since the count rose by 11,000 in 2016.

Here in El Paso in May alone, Delgado says there was the highest number of patients seeking a range of psychiatric treatments in the last four years.

"It would be easy to say this is a local problem, but it's a problem across the country,” Delgado said.

Adding to the ever growing number of patients seeking treatment is the saturation of hospitals. Delgado told ABC-7 that El Paso doesn't have enough addiction specialists to treat all these patients.

"There's always time and there's always a way to get things better and yes, it's true that sometimes we have wait lists to get patients in treatment - but there's options,” Delgado said.

Some of those options include going to the hospital emergency room where they can direct you to the appropriate resources or you can go to a Texas Tech clinic. According to Delgado, if you call and make an appointment, they should be able to treat you within a week.

If you or somebody you know is struggling, experts recommend that you seek help. Aliviane is the primary provider of mental health and substance use services in west Texas and can be reached at (915) 782-4000.

You can also visit the below websites for other useful resources.

Article Topic Follows: Health

Rachel Phillips

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