Texas Southern University Study Examines Large Rise in Opioid Overdoses in Black Communities

A new study by researchers at Texas Southern University, a historically Black educational institution in Houston, finds that there has been a staggering rise in the number of opioid overdoses in urban, minority communities.

The researchers found that during the 1999-to-2017 period, there were nearly 400,000 deaths caused by opioid overdoses in the United States. About 81 percent of these overdoses were by non-Hispanic Whites.

However, using data for the most recent year, the number of deaths related to opioid overdoes has increased dramatically in the African American community. In 1999, there were 1,130 Black deaths due to an overdose. In 2017, there were 5,513. Stating it in another way, there were 3.5 overdoses per population of 100,000 in 1999 among Blacks to 12.9 overdoses per population of 100,000 Blacks in 2017.

The authors state that “although there have been significant increases in the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Black communities, the media narrative for this epidemic is often portrayed as a White, non-Hispanic rural and suburban crisis. As a result, intervention strategies and policies have failed, both, to assess the severity of the problem in minority communities and to offer culturally sensitive preventative and treatment solutions.”

The full study, “Exploring the Impact of the Opioid Epidemic in Black and Hispanic Communities in the United States,” was published in the journal Drug Science, Policy and Law. It may be accessed here.

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