March 2, 2022

Increases in drug overdose mortality by race, ethnicity during COVID-19

Editor's Note

This study from the University of California, Los Angeles, finds that Blacks had the largest percentage increase in overdose mortality rates in 2020, overtaking the rates among Whites for the first time since 1999.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Center for Health Statistics, researchers found that overdose death rates per 100,000:

  • increased from 24.7 in 2019 to 36.8 in 2020 in Blacks, which was 16.3% higher than Whites.
  • reversed from 2010, when the rate was 15.8 in Whites, which was double that seen in Blacks at 7.9.
  • increased in American Indians or Alaska Natives, from 28.9 in 2019 to 41.4 in 2020, which was 30.8% higher than Whites.
  • remained the lowest in Hispanics or Latinos at 17.3 in 2020.

Overall, for all racial and ethnic groups, the increases in drug overdose deaths in 2020 were higher than any prior time between 1999 and 2019.

The results suggest that drug overdose mortality has been exacerbated during COVID-19, the researchers say.


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