COVID-19 has created the greatest mental health, substance abuse, and overdose crisis across Florida and nationwide in U.S. history.

Overview of the Crisis

Nearly 450,000 people lost their lives due to opioid-related overdose in one decade. Since then, COVID-19 has fueled an unprecedented overdose epidemic within a pandemic, creating the greatest mental health, substance abuse, and overdose crisis in U.S. history.


As a result of societal shutdown and mass quarantine, overdose rates and deaths of despair have reached staggering new heights during the pandemic. Social distancing and the temporary disruption to critical behavioral health services has made it increasingly challenging for those at greatest risk of overdose to access the treatment and care they need.



Consequentially, a disproportionate amount of young people we know and care about are overdosing on opioids and dying after suffering in silence with feelings of isolation, loneliness, and despair.


    • About 68,000 people in Central Florida suffer from opioid use disorder, including the use of heroin, as of 2019. (Florida Department of Health)


    • Overdose deaths in Florida are up nearly 50% during the pandemic since the same time in 2019, with over 3,606 deaths from March to August of 2020. That is over 19 people per day overdosing and dying in Florida. (Florida Department of Health)


    • During the quarantine months, drug overdoses among the black community rose disproportionately by a staggering 110%. (Florida Department of Health)

    It is important to remember the stakes of this crisis are not political – they are peoples’ lives.

    Although the future of the opioid crisis may seem bleak, there are new strategies leaders can embrace to prevent overdose and save lives in their communities.