Overdose deaths among black Americans are rising faster than those of other races: Gunshots


More than 91,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2020. There were sharp increases among certain racial groups, according to a new report.

Jeff Chiu/AP


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Jeff Chiu/AP

Overdose deaths among black Americans are rising faster than those of other races: Gunshots

More than 91,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2020. There were sharp increases among certain racial groups, according to a new report.

Jeff Chiu/AP

The historic increase in drug overdose deaths disproportionately affects Blacks and Native Americans in the United States.

A new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using data from 25 states finds fatal overdoses rose 44% among black people in 2020 from the previous year.

The rise in drug overdose deaths was nearly as steep for Native Americans and Alaska Natives — groups that together saw a 39% increase from the previous year.

The sharp increase in deaths among blacks and aboriginals far exceeded what was seen among whites during the same period. This group saw a 22% year-over-year increase in drug overdoses in 2020.

Reports reveal stark disparities by age and income

The CDC report emphasizes that these differences in overdose deaths cannot be fully explained by patterns of substance use.

“The disproportionate increase in overdose death rates among Black and Native American/Alaskan Natives may be due in part to health inequalities, such as unequal access to drug treatment and biases of treatment,” said Dr. Debra Houry, acting senior deputy director at the CDC. journalists on Tuesday.

In total, more than 91,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020, a historic 30% increase from the previous year.

While whites had the highest number of overdose deaths that year (more than 26,000 people), the rate of increase in deaths was greatest among blacks and Indigenous people, a trend that has been documented in other recent studies.

The CDC’s analysis found that the disparities were even starker among certain age groups of these populations.

Speaking to reporters at a briefing, CDC’s Mbabazi Kariisa, the report’s lead author, said: “Black youth, ages 15 to 24, have seen the largest increase in overdose deaths – 86 %”.

And the death rate for black men 65 and older was seven times higher than for white men in the same age group.

The report also found that counties with the highest income inequality had the highest rates of overdose deaths, especially among racial and ethnic minority groups.

“Among blacks, the overdose [death] rates in counties with the highest income inequality were more than double those in counties with less income inequality,” Kariisa said.

Income inequality is known to have a greater impact on the lives of minorities, she added: “It can lead to a lack of stable housing, reliable transport and health insurance, which makes it even more access to treatment and other support services”.

No evidence of treatment among the many who died

Kariisa and her colleagues also found that members of racial and ethnic minority groups were the least likely to have accessed drug treatment.

“The percentage with evidence of prior treatment for substance use was lowest for blacks, at 1 in 12,” Kariisa said.

Among Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Hispanics, only 1 in 10 had ever received drug treatment, she said. “In fact, most people who died of overdoses had no evidence of having undergone drug treatment before their death.”

The dramatic increase in overdose deaths is largely due to illegally manufactured fentanyl, “including for people who use other drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine who may not know they are being exposed to these opioids. powerful and deadly,” Houry said, referring to fentanyl contamination at illegal locations. drugs.

Addressing fentanyl in the drug supply and historical socio-economic inequalities will be key to addressing these disparities, she added.

Houry stressed the need for greater availability of addiction treatment services and harm reduction measures, such as naloxone – a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose – and fentanyl test strips, which allow users to tell if the drug they are using contains fentanyl.

“Some prevention strategies will have more immediate benefits, while others will have longer-term, sustained effects,” she said.


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