African Americans overdose deaths are skyrocketing

According to a recent study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, Black Americans saw the sharpest increase in drug mortality rates of any demographic group in 2020, outpacing the rate among white Americans for the first time since 1999.

(Pew Research Center ).- Dr. Helen Hansen, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine who co-authored the study with Joseph R. Friedman, spoke to Yahoo News about the various factors, such as systemic racial and socioeconomic inequalities and policies, that have played a significant role in the crisis among Black Americans.

“For the past 20 years, what the media has focused on is the very high death rate among white Americans. And there has been a certain shock and surprise because of all of the stereotypes about the racial identity of people who are addicted in this country,” Hansen stated. “What Joe Friedman uncovered was, not only is it and has it not been a white crisis all along, but starting in 2017 and then sharply accelerating in 2020, the Black overdose death rate really shot up.”

The peer-reviewed study compiled data from the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) reporting guideline, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics. Since COVID, overdose death rates jumped 40% overall. The data calculated drug overdose death rates per 100, 000 people by race and ethnicity from 1999 to 2020. It found that overdose deaths among Black people jumped from 24.7 per 100,000 people in 2019 to 36.8 per 100,000. The rate was 16.3% higher than that of white people (31.6 per 100,000). Black people had the second-highest overdose death rate in 2020, with American Indian or Alaskan Natives having the highest rate of overdose deaths, at 41.4 deaths per 100,000.

Black men were the most affected, with more than 15,200 drug overdose deaths in 2020, more than double the number in 2016. The Pew Research Center said the death rate among the group sharply increased by 213% from 2015, when Black men were less likely than white men and Native American and Alaskan Native men to die from overdoses. Mortality rates from drug overdoses among men in every other major racial or ethnic group have risen at a slower pace.



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