Assessing the Relationships Between COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders and Opioid Overdoses in the State of Pennsylvania

Brian King, Ruchi Patel, Andrea Rishworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


COVID-19 is compounding opioid use disorder throughout the United States. While recent commentaries provide useful policy recommendations, few studies examine the intersection of COVID-19 policy responses and patterns of opioid overdose. We examine opioid overdoses prior to and following the Pennsylvania stay-at-home order implemented on April 1, 2020. Using data from the Pennsylvania Overdose Information Network, we measure change in monthly incidents of opioid-related overdose pre- versus post-April 1, and the significance of change by gender, age, race, drug class, and naloxone doses administered. Findings demonstrate statistically significant increases in overdose incidents among both men and women, White and Black groups, and several age groups, most notably the 30–39 and 40–49 ranges, following April 1. Significant increases were observed for overdoses involving heroin, fentanyl, fentanyl analogs or other synthetic opioids, pharmaceutical opioids, and carfentanil. The study emphasizes the need for opioid use to be addressed alongside efforts to mitigate and manage COVID-19 infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-660
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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