Woman with a drink

The pandemic has had a profound impact on substance use in the United States, with a major increase in drug and alcohol misuse and overdose deaths. Opioid addiction, for example, has become a national crisis as drug overdose deaths topped 100,000 in the past year; in fact, opioid overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, surpassing even motor vehicle accidents.

Leading up to the pandemic, alcohol misuse was on the rise, with a JAMA Network Open study revealing that 1 in 5 deaths of U.S. adults 20 to 49 were attributed to excessive drinking. During the pandemic, a CDC report found alcohol-induced deaths jumped 26% between 2019 and 2020, killing more than 49,000 people during the first year of the pandemic.

While substance use disorders (SUDs) impact all age groups, they have a particularly negative effect on a more vulnerable subgroup of the population: young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

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