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Department of Geography, Pennsylvania State University
Infectious Addictions: Geographies of Colliding Epidemics
The U.S. opioid epidemic and COVID-19 pandemic are two of the most pressing societal challenges of the 21st century. The use and abuse of opioids spans several decades with varied and significant impacts that have expanded into a national health crisis. Unfortunately, recent advances in mitigating the opioid epidemic have encountered a second public health crisis in the form of COVID-19 that is further compounding patterns of opioid abuse while transforming the landscapes of addiction and treatment. While recent commentaries have provided useful policy recommendations since the start of the pandemic, few empirical studies have been conducted on the intersection of COVID-19 policy responses and patterns of opioid abuse. In this presentation, I highlight recent findings for how opioid use and misuse has increased during COVID-19, in addition to the challenges in providing treatment for addiction.