Mar 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Latino drug overdose death rate jumped 40% in 2020, study finds

A used syringe under the Joseph W. Casey Bridge in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
A used syringe in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a city where the majority of residents are Latino. Photo: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Latinos in the U.S. experienced a 40% spike in drug overdose death rates in 2020, according to a new study.

Why it matters: The large percentage increase for Latinos shows how the pandemic and isolation may have affected Hispanics, who experienced higher rates of COVID-19 deaths.

Details: The study published this month in JAMA Psychiatry found that Latinos had a drug overdose death rate of 17.3 per 100,000 residents in 2020, compared to around 12.3 the year before.

  • The overdose rate for Latinos has been steadily increasing since 1999, when it was around 5 per 100,000 residents, the study found.

Yes, but: Drug overdose rates for Hispanics remained the lowest among the other groups assessed throughout the study period.

  • Native Americans or Alaska Natives experienced the highest overdose mortality rate in 2020 (41.4 per 100 000).
  • Overdose death rates per 100,000 among Black Americans increased from 24.7 in 2019 to 36.8 in 2020.
  • The rate for whites was 31.6 per 100,000 in 2020.

What they're saying: "Drug overdose mortality is increasingly becoming a racial justice issue in the US. Our results suggest that drug overdose mortality has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic," the authors of the study wrote.

  • "Since 2015, overdose deaths have been rising most rapidly among Black and Hispanic and Latino communities."

Don't forget: New Mexico, the most Hispanic state in the nation, has struggled with generations of opioid addiction disorders among some families in the state.

  • New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced last week a deal to allocate opioid settlement funds to more than fifty communities, securing more than $195.5 million from four opioid manufacturing and distribution companies.
  • The allocation deal provides more than $107 million to local governments and nearly $88 million to the state government, the majority of which is earmarked specifically for opioid abatement efforts.

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