Drug overdose death rates in 2020 increased 44% among Black people and 39% among American Indian and Alaska Native people, compared with 22% for white people and 21% for Hispanic people, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report based on data from 25 states and Washington, D.C. The rate for Black youth aged 15-24 increased 86%, compared with 34% for white youth and 51% for Hispanic youth that age; while the rate for Black men aged 65 and older was nearly seven times the rate for white men that age. Overdose rates were higher in counties with greater income inequality and opioid treatment providers.
“Higher availability of treatment services does not mean improved access to care,” CDC notes. “The known differences in access, barriers to care, and healthcare mistrust could play a role in exacerbating inequities even when treatment is available in the community. … The growing overdose crisis, particularly among people from racial and ethnic minority groups, requires prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction efforts that are tailored to promote optimal health for all. Public health professionals, healthcare providers, policy makers, and communities can all play a role in preventing overdose deaths.”