Drug deaths were already climbing at the beginning of 2020. Then the pandemic hit

SAN DIEGO — The isolation of the coronavirus pandemic had seriously begun to take its toll on Alexander Joubert by the time his 21st birthday came around in May. The skate parks were closed. He missed his friends. And the in-person family counseling he’d started just months earlier now consisted of conversations through a computer screen. So, to lift his spirits, his parents allowed him to celebrate his landmark birthday with a few friends in the backyard of their Encinitas home. But someone must have brought Alexander several doses of cocaine as a gift, sparking cycles of relapse and self-det…

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