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CDC: 93,000 people died of drug overdoses in US in 2020 with a 33% increase in Arizona

“I think the research will probably show that people already using drugs, their drug use got exacerbated because of Covid.”

PHOENIX — The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the entire world. Most of 2020 was packed with uncertainty and many Americans had to navigate days, weeks, and months of isolation due to safety guidelines and protocols. 

Isolation can be extremely challenging for people struggling with drug addiction. 

RELATED: Fentanyl crisis in Arizona: New law seeks to save drug addicts with a harm reduction tool

“Everything we see or do or talk about, now goes through this filter of loss,” said Chandler father Matt Taylor, who lost his 17-year-old son Alex to a fentanyl overdose. 

The pain of loss is still raw, his wife Lindsay and him are still trying to make sense of the tragedy. “I’m just shocked at how many people are affected by this,” said Lindsay. 

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control found that drug overdose death counts are up 29.4% across the country in 2020 and 33.7% in Arizona. 

“I think the research will probably show that people already using drugs, their drug use got exacerbated because of Covid,” said Nick Stavros, CEO of Community Medical Services.    

The clinic provides treatment for drug addictions with 21 sites in Arizona, currently serving 7000 patients. Stavros says the increase goes beyond the pandemic. “It’s cheaper. It’s easy to manufacture. It’s easy to smuggle,” said Stavros.    

RELATED: 'No one is immune to this': Valley family shares story of drug addiction that claimed 17-year-old after fentanyl overdose

Fighting to end drug addiction

Stavros says ending the stigma surrounding drug addiction will benefit those seeking treatment. 

“Society needs to look at addiction through a lens of compassion. That’s what’s going to lead to more people wanting treatment, coming to terms they need treatment and entering treatment,” said Stavros. 

As Matt and Lindsay now navigate life without their son, both are now advocating that no other family experiences their pain. “We want to save other families that are going through something like this.”   

RELATED: Fentanyl crisis in Arizona: New law seeks to save drug addicts with a harm reduction tool

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