Drug overdose deaths increased among Black and Native Americans during COVID

Ones COVID-19 consumption in the US in 2020, another health crisis is also raging: drug overdose. Nearly 92,000 people died from drug overdoses that year, up 30% from 2019.

While the number of drug overdose deaths increased in the population, the increase in the number of deaths among Blacks, American Indians, and Alaska Natives, according to data published July 19 in the journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Weekly report on morbidity and mortality. According to a CDC analysis of data from 25 states and the District of Columbia, drug overdose deaths increased 44% among blacks from 2019 to 2020 and 39% among American Indians and Native Americans. Alaska. For white Americans, they went up 22%.

Drug-related deaths vary by race and ethnicity, but new data shows that the rifts are deepening and people of color are barely affected. In the 1990s, when opioids surged, whites were more likely to die from drug overdoses than black Americans, but deaths among blacks have more than caught up in the past decade. The rate of drug overdose deaths in blacks has increased more than in whites every year since 2012, and the rate of drug overdose deaths among black Americans has surpassed that of Americans. Caucasian in 2020, according to a 3 month analysis published year JAMA Psychiatry. Among American Indians and Alaska Natives, who previously had similar overdose rates to white Americans, the drug overdose death rate surpassed that of whites in 2014. 2019.

The authors of the recent study pointed to several root causes of disparities, including unequal access to health care and effective treatments for use disorders. Addictions like buprenorphine, as well as the effects of income inequality, such as unstable housing, poorer insurance, and unreliable transportation. About 8.3% of Black Americans, American Indians, and Alaska Natives who died were less likely to receive stimulant treatment than whites, the authors note: about 8 .3% of Black Americans and 10.7% of American Indians and Alaska Natives received treatment, compared with 16.4% of whites.

Jerreed Ivanich, an assistant professor at Colorado Public Schools, said that many American Indian and Alaskan Native communities do not have the resources to treat substance use disorders, and in many cases, Those who live in tribal reserves need to go a long way to get treatment. Medical Officer at the University of Colorado Anschutz and a member of the Metlakatla Indian Community (who was not involved in the new study). “You’re driving an hour, two more hours, to get resources,” says Ivanich. “And if you don’t have a job, if you don’t have a babysitter, if you don’t have a support network at home, then accessing those programs and resources becomes really difficult.”

The researchers note that fentanyl, a powerful opioid that has contaminated the illicit drug supply and is sometimes used in conjunction with stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, has also resulted in deaths. Overdose deaths are increasing among Black Americans, American Indians, and Alaska Natives. More overdoses involve both opioids and stimulants, such as cocaine or methamphetamine. Research from CDC published in Dependence on drugs and alcohol in 2021 found that opioid-related stimulant-related deaths were most common in Native Americans and Alaskans, while cocaine and opioid-related deaths were most common in blacks.

Dr. Debra E. Houry, acting deputy director of the CDC, said in a press conference July 20 that it is critical to prevention efforts to address the use of fentanyl and polysubstances and reduce the risk of harm. health inequalities in history.

The Pandemic accelerates deaths from drug overdoses both by disrupting the drug market and the lives of drug users. As drugs become harder to move during the pandemic, Traffickers seem to have increased their fentanyl transport, which is less cumbersome. The pandemic has also worsened people’s mental health and isolated them, which can leave drug users alone — which experts warn makes it harder for people to receive help. more help from someone else, in the form of the naloxone overdose reversal medication or by calling an ambulance.

Ayana Jordan, a professor of psychiatry at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, who studies substance use disorder treatment for marginalized (and non-participating) communities participate in new research). “When I speak nationally, people are still surprised to learn that Blacks outnumber whites in terms of opioid overdose deaths.” And as whites are less affected than black Americans, attention has dwindled, she said.

“Ten years ago, you couldn’t turn on the TV and not hear about the opioid crisis, and how it affects white people, especially in Central America. You can’t get away with it,” Jordan said. “To the same extent, we need to say that drug overdoses are increasing in Black and Indigenous communities at a rate we’ve never seen before.”

That lack of concern could have implications for public health. Because neither Blacks nor stimulant users are subject to the overdose crisis, many people of color are unaware that they should take additional precautions, such as testing. their drugs with a fentanyl test strip. Blacks are also not routinely tested for opioid use disorder, she said. “Many people don’t even realize that fentanyl is actually an opiate,” says Jordan. “I talked to a lot of people who were like, ‘Oh, Dr. Jordan, I didn’t know I was part of this opioid crisis.’

Jordan says there is also an urgent need to develop supportive drug treatments for addictions to stimulants like cocaine. She said, building awareness among scientists, clinicians and the public that blacks and Indigenous peoples are very vulnerable to overdoses that save their lives.

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