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Opioid Response Network (ORN) and COVID-19 Data Spotlight

February 22, 2021 1:56 PM | Judy Pfeiffer (Administrator)

Suspected Opioid Overdoses Increased During the Pandemic

Suspected opioid overdoses reported from over 2,600 agencies across the United States showed an increase in the months following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. From March to May 2020, 62 percent of agencies in counties that provided data reported an increase in suspected overdose submissions.

Source: Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP)

ODMAP submissions January 1, 2020 to March 18, 2020 compared to March 19, 2020 to May 19, 2020 

How Has ORN Responded?

One example: Early in the pandemic, the Opioid Response Network (ORN) identified urgent need for education and training regarding changing regulations and guidance concerning the use of telehealth/telemedicine in the management of substance use disorders to help combat a suspected increase in overdoses. One response came from ORN partner, the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, which created a telehealth webinar series. Over 4,000 individuals registered to learn about: federal telehealth regulations; strategies for conducting group and individual sessions; and management of opioid use disorder in the context of social distancing, stay at home, and shelter in place orders. Access the webinars here and other ORN COVID-19 resources here.

This data spotlight is the first in a new monthly series brought to the Impact Bulletin by ORN partner organization, RTI International. Stay tuned for more.

About the Opioid Response Network (ORN):

ORN provides free, localized training and education for states, communities, organizations and individuals in the prevention, treatment and recovery of opioid use disorders and stimulant use. Learn more and submit a request at


Alter, A. 2020. COVID-19 impact on US national overdose crisis. Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program. Retrieved from here.

Funding for this initiative was made possible (in part) by grant nos. 1H79TI083343 and 6H79TI080816 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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