Many have considered opioid abuse an epidemic over the last few decades as half a million people died between 1999 and 2019. However, that has been escalated even further due to the pandemic and there are real concerns that the use of opioids could see deaths continue to spike.
While this has often largely affected the white community, many treatment centres have seen a large influx in people of colour come through their doors, while statistics are showing that drug addiction amongst black communities is beginning to grow, particularly when it comes to opioids.
Opioid addiction is one of the most deadly on the planet and down the years addiction occurred largely in white people, especially in the USA due to pharmaceutical companies targeting these areas to avoid law enforcement agencies, while black people were also often less likely to be prescribed opioids for pain relief.
However, this is now beginning to infiltrate black communities and more people in those communities are now dying from opioid overdoses than ever before.
Statistics have shown that the death rate among Black Americans has increased by 44%, with it particularly affecting the younger demographic. The death rate among those between 15 and 24 has increased 86% according to a study by Harvard with the overall death rate higher than white Americans for the first time in two decades.
Help is clearly needed for these communities and the dramatic effects of opioid addiction in such communities are clear to see. George Floyd is one of the more tragic stories of opioid addiction, and indeed he was in hospital having suffered an overdose a few months prior to his murder.
The rise of fentanyl is the major factor behind this growth spurt and it’s proving particularly lethal in the USA. The nation as a whole is really suffering with fentanyl addiction, especially among younger people and the government is currently battling with itself on how to try and solve such a problem.
The main problem at present though is the access levels to treatment. While there has been an increase in Black Americans receiving treatment, the number of people dying from opioid abuse that have access to treatment is still low. Only 14% of those who have died from opioid abuse have received treatment, while that figure among Black Americans is just 8%, the lowest of any demographic.
Answers are needed by the government to try and curb this ever-increasing problem, and barriers need to be lifted to ensure people are getting the help they need to try and tackle what is becoming a real plight on life in the USA and worldwide.