“Drug deaths among Blacks in urban counties rose by 41 percent in 2016, far outpacing any other racial or ethnic group.” (NewYorkTimes)
Reports released recently from the Center of Disease Control, show that opioids are starting to become a huge problem in African-American communities. Drug overdoses from opioids rose 41 percent for African-Americans and those between the ages of 45 and 64 are the main victims.
“The rising drug-death rate among older black men, many of whom probably used heroin on and off since the 1970s, [may be used] as evidence that progress against the new epidemic could take decades.”
Deaths from opioid drug overdoses, have surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S for the second year in a row.
“Data suggests that the common perception of the epidemic as an almost entirely white problem rooted in over-prescription of painkillers is no longer accurate, as fentanyl invades broader swaths of the country and its population.” (NewYorkTimes)
Opiates are prescription pain-killers such as morphine, derived from the opium plant. The drug Heroin, is also derived from this plant.
Most medications prescribed for pain today, are synthesized versions of opiate drugs called opioids–such as oxycodone and Fentanyl.
“If fentanyl enters the drug supply in one area, deaths can accumulate rapidly.”
Fentanyl is one of the strongest opioid drugs on the market–50 to 100 times stronger than morphine–and is prescribed mostly for those recovering from surgery.
In 2016, singer Prince was reported to have died from overdosing on fentanyl.
“The problem with Fentanyl now is that it’s being trafficked on the black market. The DEA says it’s flowing in alarming amounts from China to Mexico and into the United States where it’s being sold as Heroin, Xanax, and less potent opiates. So, users aren’t aware of what they’re taking and end up overdosing.”(WKRG)
Studies published by the Chicago Urban League suggest that despite the surge in African-American deaths, they are being ‘whitewashed’ from the opioid epidemic.
“Now that addressing the opioid epidemic as a public health issue has become a national priority, we must ensure that the approach applies equally to African-Americans and that new recourses are considered for those who have been disproportionately penalized by the so-called ‘War on Drugs.” (ChicagoUrbanLeague)