In this country, the drug overdose issue has now become a Black issue. This was not always the case, but now out of all the demographic groups in 2020, Black Americans saw the largest increase in drug overdose deaths, outpacing white Americans for the first time since 1999, according to a study from JAMA Psychiatry.
This disparity in overdose deaths did not just show up out of nowhere, just two months ago it was found that Black men 55-years-old and older are at an increased risk of dying by opioid overdose. But this new study may be even more concerning for Black Americans overall.
Co-authored by Dr. Helen Hansen, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA, and Joseph R. Friedman, a medical student at UCLA, the report names systemic racial and socioeconomic inequalities and policies as some of the reasons for the sharp increase in drug overdose deaths among Black Americans.
From Yahoo News:
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.
Among Black Americans, men were the most affected with more than 15,200 overdose deaths in 2020, double the number from 2016. The mortality rate from drug overdoses among men in every other racial or ethnic group has risen at a slower pace compared to Black men, according to the study.
The overdose death rate has also increased among Black women. Between 2015 and 2020, the mortality rate from drug overdoses increased 144 percent in that period. Just like Black men, the mortality rate from drug overdoses surpasses that of every other racial or ethnic group between 2015 and 2020, according to the Pew Research Center.