Strong drug mix causes an unprecedented rate of black Americans to overdose
Opioid overdose can killed a lot of Americans In recent years, experts say that the epidemic is in fourth wave. But the current wave of opioid epidemic presents a new and especially insidious threat: opioids, including extremely strong synthetic opioids fentanylare increasingly being mixed with other drugs, whether users know it or not. Since 2019More than 75% of cocaine-related drug use deaths now include opioids, for example, as well as half of all cocaine-related deaths. stimulants such as methamphetamine.
When combined with other drugs, opioids are proving especially dangerous for black Americans, a new finding research published in American Journal of Epidemiology. Multi-drug overdose deaths increased significantly between 2007 and 2019, but in black Americans the increase was much faster than in whites. Among black Americans, the number of cocaine-related opioid deaths during this time period increased by 575%—up from 0.6 to 4.05 deaths per 100,000 people—while among whites, the percentage mortality increased by 184%, from 0.49 to 1.39 deaths per 100,000 people.
“People are increasingly dying from stimulants, cocaine, meth and other recreational drugs,” said Tarlise Townsend, lead author of the study and a researcher in the population health division of New York City. differs largely, but not entirely, from stimulant fentanyl contamination. Medical University. “We’re at a point where many experts support that drug users assume fentanyl is in whatever they’re taking.”
Even the researchers were surprised by the size of the difference, Townsend said. “What we found in this study is really, really alarming,” she said. “Not only are opioid overdose deaths increasing rapidly in this country, but they are disproportionately affecting people from marginalized racial and ethnic groups. , and especially black Americans.” The divide seems to be widening. During the final year of the study — 2018 to 2019 — opioid and cocaine overdose deaths increased 29% in Blacks while remaining stable in whites.
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When opioids are combined with meth and other stimulants besides cocaine, whites are still more likely to die from an overdose than black Americans. Between 2007 and 2019, these patterns of death among Caucasians increased by 3,200%, from 0.09 deaths to 2.97 deaths per 100,000 people. However, they accelerated even faster in the Black community, growing from 0.01 to 1.63 per 100,000, a 16,200% increase.
Expanding access to drug treatment programs, especially for communities of color, is key to helping reduce these deaths, Townsend said. However, there is no easy way to prevent overdose deaths. Unlike with opioids, yes no FDA approved drugs For the treatment of stimulant use disorders, there are no evidence-based treatments specifically designed for people with stimulant use disorders, Townsend said. “We need to scale up and develop additional treatment modalities,” she said. “We need to scale up funding and do a better job of targeting opioid prevention or opioid overdose prevention tools for people who primarily use stimulants.”
Dennis Bailer, director of overdose prevention programs at Project Weber/RENEW, a Providence Rhode Island-based nonprofit focused on drug addiction recovery. (Bailer was not involved in the study.) Low-quality and limited insurance options, housing insecurity, and over-management by Black communities all hinder treatment for those people need it, he said. Many black Americans also struggle to trust institutions like the health care system, which they feel has betrayed them, Bailer said. “As a person of color, I feel like the answer to black and Hispanic crack cocaine users. [has been] to lock them up,” he said. “That’s what we’ve seen in the past, and that’s why a lot of people are reluctant to join. It’s all about white opioid users. And a lot of times, we feel like we’re in the back seat.”
Ensure that all people who use stimulants have access to tools designed to help prevent deaths from opioid use can help, Bailer said. These include naloxone (also known as Narcan), a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses. People who use cocaine or meth regularly don’t think they need Narcan because they’re not using intravenous drugs — but they don’t realize they could be at risk from deadly opioids, he says. like fentanyl that they don’t know. This is especially dangerous when the person has no tolerance for opioids, Bailer says. “A lot of our cocaine users are not informed that they are at high risk of overdose [as opioid users],” he said. “People are letting their guard down.”