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A New Study Says Black And Brown Communities Had The Highest Increase In Drug Overdose Rates During The Pandemic!

-Avier Wanjou-Brass


During the Covid-19 pandemic, drug overdose rates in the United States have increased and it is said to have hit very close to home within certain communities!

A new study suggests that Black and brown communities had the highest percentage of overdose death rates in 2020, overtaking the rate among White people since 1999. It’s also been stated that American Indian and Alaska Native people also had the highest rate of any group published in AMA Psychiatry.

According to CNN, “Study authors Joseph Friedman and Dr. Helena Hansen, both of the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzed data on drug overdose deaths between 1999 and 2020 from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database and the National Center for Health Statistics.” 

In 2020, the data showed American Indian or Alaska Natives with the “highest rate of overdose deaths at 41.4 deaths per 100,000 people, 30.8% higher than the rate for White people” (CNN). 

On the other hand, Black people had the second-highest overdose rate at 36.8 per 100,000 in 2020. This information comes in as 16.3% higher than the rate for White people, which is 31.6 per 100,000. 

However, drug overdoses rates among Hispanic or Latino people remained the lowest in the study at 17.3% per 100,000 in 2020. But Hispanic or Latino people increased with 40.1% in drug overdose rates. 

Study authors wrote, “drug overdose mortality is increasingly becoming a racial justice issue in the US. Our results suggest that drug overdose mortality has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Researchers claimed the US overdose crisis is worsening due to “an increasingly toxic illicit drug supply that may disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority communities.” According to them, the pandemic accelerated trends heading in the wrong direction and reversing the course will require some timeless strategically and ideologically.

Katherine Keyes, an associate professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, tells CNN. “If and when Covid restrictions ease, you won’t see a reversal in the same way you saw the acceleration because these drug distribution networks and addiction become embedded in the community. And it’s not like they turn off overnight.” 

Despite Black and brown people leading in drug overdose rates, OVERALL, all racial and ethnic groups in the study had increased in 2020. The increase was higher than any other between 1999 and 2019. 

The pandemic was rough on some people, emotionally and mentally. It is a no-brainer why drug overdose rates have increased. Unfortunately, it is sad and overwhelming that people have lost their lives, especially within our community.

If you have problems or struggle  mentally with substance abuse, please seek the proper care and help. Also, if you know anyone struggling, encourage them as well. Cousins, stay safe out there.

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