BOCA RATON, Fla. — Overdose deaths have nearly doubled in Palm Beach County compared to last year, and addiction specialists are warning that COVID-19 in the cause.
"No one was ready for this," said Mathew Williams, a recovering addict.
Williams is doing his best to keep his businesses afloat during the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We own and operate a peanut butter snack company called FroPro. We also have a small boutique gym here as well," Williams said.
However, he’s not only trying to keep his business on track.
"As somebody that’s struggled with addiction for years, you may not intentionally doing it, but it’s a way to kind of escape," Williams said.
From January to March, opioid-related deaths rose 24% compared to 2019. From January to August there were 361 overdose deaths in Palm Beach County, a nearly 50% increase compared to last year.
"That kind of made it challenging when they shut down some of the fellowship halls and some the things people could do to congregate," Williams said.
"You know the opposite of addiction and certainly mental health disorders is connection," said David Levin, the chief clinical officer at Legacy Healing Center
Levin said feelings of isolation and uncertainty caused by the pandemic can make the road to recovery bumpier.
"I can’t give you magic pill and wave a wand and you’re going to be cured. It’s a combination of the three, the medication, the therapy and the self-help, support groups." Levin said.
Levin added that opioid epidemic can no longer be ignored.
"We have to shed light on what’s going on and the connection between COVID-19, mental illness and substance abuse disorders," Levin said.