(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that overdose death rates have climbed in all groups, but at an even greater rate in Black and American Indian and Alaska Native people.
According to a CDC news release, 2020 overdose rates increased 44% for Black people and 39% for American Indian and Alaska Native people compared to the prior year. White people saw overdose death rates increase 24%, also a historic high.
The overdose death rate for Black males 65 years and older was nearly seven times that of white males of the same age. Black people 15-24 years old saw the largest increase at 86%, and overdose death rates for American Indian/Alaska Native women 25-44 years old were about two times that of white women of the same age.
The report noted that the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated overdose deaths by limiting access to prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery support services. Another culprit is the prevalence of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.
The report used overdose data from 25 states (including Pennsylvania) and the District of Columbia.
Additional observations were available within the report, including the fact that: a history of substance abuse was common, but a history of receiving treatment was not; availability of treatment programs did not result in fewer deaths; areas with more income inequality saw more overdose deaths; and in counties with the lowest income inequality, overdose death rates were highest among American Indian/Alaska Native people.
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The CDC news release recommended increasing access and reducing barriers to treatment and recovery service, raising awareness about fentanyl and reducing stigma around treatment, and supporting harm reduction by expanding distribution of overdose reversal drugs and access to harm reduction services like fentanyl test strips and syringe service programs.