Lead: Polysubstance mortality trends in White and Black Americans during the opioid epidemic

This Week in Addiction Medicine from ASAM

Feb 6 2024 • 6 mins

Polysubstance mortality trends in White and Black Americans during the opioid epidemic, 1999–2018

BMC Public Health

The CDC characterizes the opioid epidemic in three waves: first, prescription opioids (1999-2010); second, heroin (2011-2013); and third, synthetic opioids (2013-present). The authors examine the epidemic, looking at trends in multiple substances involved in overdoses and differences by race. Psychostimulant and benzodiazepine involvement were more common among White persons, while cocaine-related deaths were higher among Black persons. Overdose deaths have increased faster among Black persons since 2013. Overall, overdose deaths frequently involve multiple substances and can’t simply be attributed to opioids. The authors give three policy implications for their findings: 1) polysubstance use should be considered the norm, 2) addressing racial disparities requires interventions across primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention, and 3) the importance of measures to address fentanyl specifically.

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