Before Pandemic, Drug-Overdose Deaths Slid, But Not for All
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, drug-overdose deaths were down across the nation for the first time in 20 years, according to a new report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government. But since the coronavirus stay-at-home orders, county health offices are reporting more overdose deaths and more calls for drug-overdose antidotes.
Leigh Wedenoja, senior policy analyst at the Institute, said one reason among many for the recent spike is that people have been trapped at home away from access to treatment.
"They're also looking for new sources of drugs that might be of different potency than they're accustomed to, which can also lead to changes in the probability of an overdose for a long-time user," Wedenoja said.
Overdose numbers for West Virginia, a hotspot for opioid abuse, decreased by 12% from 2017 to 2018, according to the report. That's the lowest rate since 2015.
The study is based on the most recent mortality statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, which take more than a year to compile. It shows that the drop in overall overdose deaths was driven largely by a decrease among white Americans.
But Wedenoja said overdose death rates and total overdose deaths continued to rise for people of color.
"One of the reasons for this is a lot more deaths in black communities, Native American and Asian communities are likely to involve an illegal stimulant, either cocaine or methamphetamine," she said. "Opioid-only deaths, white deaths, are going down, but these other deaths are going up."
The report found overdose deaths of black West Virginians increased from 63 to 68 deaths per 100,000 people in 2018. Meanwhile, white overdose deaths in the state went down from 54 per 100,000 to 47.
get more stories like this via email
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hispanic Heritage Month began this week, and will be celebrated through Oct. 15. Oregon has a rapidly growing Hispanic population…
SILVER SPRING, Md. -- As the Biden administration challenges a Texas law restricting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, Planned Parenthood for …
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Social Security, the program credited with lifting 15 million older residents in Wyoming and across the U.S. out of poverty…
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas has made some changes to its state rent relief program to make it easier to distribute assistance to residents…
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The historic clean-energy bill signed into Illinois law yesterday includes measures from closing coal and natural gas plants by 2…
INDIANAPOLIS -- A new coalition is forming to push back against predatory lending and urge state lawmakers to take action to protect consumers…
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- More than 200 high earners have written a letter urging Congress to raise taxes to help support social safety-net programs that …
Health and Wellness
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Limiting women's access to abortion and other reproductive health care can have a devastating impact on state economies. According …