Why Prescription Opium Is Not Just a Problem for White Americans

Media and popular culture often portray prescriptions drug addiction in America as a scourge of white communities. But recent data suggest a changing reality. While white Americans were more likely to die from an overdose than black Americans in 2019, the opioid overdose death rate increased 38% among black Americans between 2018 and 2019. , according to a recent data research Hard-hit communities in four states published in American Journal of Public Health. There were no changes in the number of overdoses among other racial groups in the evaluated states.
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The demographic gap is narrowing when it comes to who is most affected by prescription opioids. Now, one New research published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that black and white patients have been prescribed opioids at similar rates since the early 2000s. THis researchers analyzed data from more than 250,000 adults without cancer who were prescribed opioids between 1996 and 2017 and found that, on average, between 1996 and 2017, 13.3% of patients Blacks in the study had at least one opioid prescription, compared with 13.8% of white patients.

The authors say this raises concerns that black patients may face the same risk of opioid abuse as white patients, although whites tend to benefit the most from it. attention, anti-addiction resources, and medical treatments are devoted to the problem. “Although [media’s] focuses on whites using prescription opioids and blacks using illegal opioids” (illegally purchased prescription drugs or banned drugs such as heroin), “When you look at prescriptions… Black people are really at risk,” said Dr. Virginia Chang, associate professor of population health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine and study co-author with Gawon Cho. similar to whites. student at NYU’s School of Global Public Health.

When opioids like OxyContin was introduced Beginning in the 1990s, they were first prescribed to white patients in greater numbers than blacks and Hispanics, the study authors write. The Potential reasons why a lot, including racist stereotypes that some health care providers have historically held to discredit black patients themselves about pain and predisposition New therapeutics are rarely used in underrepresented racial groups. But opioid prescriptions rose rapidly across racial groups in the early 2000s, driven by drug manufacturers’ Active advertising campaigns, efforts like those of the American Pain Society promote pain as “the fifth vital sign“Put doctors first, and liberalization laws governing the prescribing of opioids. In particular, opioid prescriptions for Black patients skyrocketed, and in the 2000s Black and white patients were prescribed opioids at similar rates. In the 2010s, prescription limits helped reduce opioid use among racial and ethnic groups, although the epidemic continued to ravage.

Chang says the disparity in prescribing rates by race may be part of why drug overdose deaths among black Americans are now catching up with white Americans’ death rates. However, increasing opioid prescriptions could offer potential benefits for Black patients — not just risks. When prescribed and used correctly, opioids can appropriately treat pain. While this study did not delve into the rationale behind prescribing opioids, the fact that they are more widely available to Black patients could be an indication that this population is being treated more fairly. “Not every opioid prescription is bad,” says Chang.

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The demographic difference has not completely disappeared. The researchers found that among Hispanic patients, only 10.3% were prescribed opioids. The continuing decline in the number of Hispanic patients receiving opioid prescriptions may protect against opioid abuse, as Hispanics have fewer overdose deaths than blacks and whites. . At the same time, it may also suggest that this group of patients may be getting inadequate help for pain relief, Chang said. “For Hispanics, because they receive fewer prescriptions and they have fewer overdoses, some parts of it may represent undertreatment.” The study notes that although Hispanic, Black, and Caucasian populations have similar rates of chronic pain, Hispanic patients are less likely to receive opioids than white or black patients with low levels of pain. similar pain.

The study only looked at whether a patient had an opioid prescription — not the prescribed dose, one after the other research was found to be significantly higher in white patients than in black patients. However, the results suggest that Black communities may need more resources to addiction treatment, especially since they used to be limited access medication to treat opiate use disorder. Growing evidence that blacks and whites often first encounter opioids through a doctor’s prescription may raise awareness that opioid addiction is, in many ways, a medical problem.

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