Jul 25, 2022 - News

NC overdose deaths increased more than the national average in 2020

Drug overdose deaths surged by 30% nationally during the first year of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. That number is even higher in North Carolina, which saw a 40% increase.

  • That's nine North Carolinians a day who died from a drug overdose in 2020.

What's happening: Fentanyl has accelerated the opioid crisis, as it's often laced into other drugs, sometimes unbeknownst to the user.

  • Across the country, Black and Native American communities saw higher rates of overdose deaths, according to the CDC's latest report, and those disparities are worsening.

Why it matters: These numbers reveal long-overlooked disparities in health care and how social determinants like poverty, housing and transportation can hinder access to care like substance use treatment, Axios' Arielle Dreher reports.

  • The pandemic highlighted those disparities, which CDC officials said all play a role in why drug overdoses are disproportionately affecting Black and Native American people.

By the numbers: Disparities in overdose deaths were greater in counties across the country that saw more income inequality, particularly among Black residents, the report found.

  • Native American and Indigenous North Carolinians saw the highest rates of overdose deaths in the state in 2020, with around 84 deaths per 100,000 — an increase of 93% from 2019's rate, according to the state health department.
  • That's more than double the increase in overdose deaths Native Americans saw nationally, at 39%.
  • Around 36 per 100,000 white people died of overdose in 2020, by contrast — an increase of 32%.

What's next: In its recently passed state budget, North Carolina's legislature included multiple measures to combat substance abuse and opioid addiction.

Go deeper: Tweaks in state opioid funding could mean big changes for people with addiction (NC Health News)


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