Why Prescription Opioids Aren’t Only a Problem for White Americans

Popular culture and media portray the U.S. prescription opioid addiction problem as a problem that plagues predominantly white communities. But recent data suggest a changing reality. According to recent research, while white Americans are more likely to overdose than Black Americans in 2019, overdose death rates among Black Americans rose by 38% between 2018 and 2019, according to the latest study. The publication contains the names of four hard-hit communities from four states. American Journal of Public Health. The number of overdoses in other races in the state were not affected.
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There are fewer gaps in the population when it comes down to which people will be most affected by prescription drugs. Now there are a New study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine It was found that both Black and White patients were prescribed the opioids at the same rates in the 2000s. TThe researchers looked at data on more than 250,000 people without cancer that were given opioids between 1996 and 2017. They found that 13.3% of Black patients had received at least one prescription from the study, as opposed to 13.8% for white patients.

According to the authors, this raises concern about the possibility that Black people may be exposed to similar opioid misuse risks as those of white patients. This is despite the fact that white people are most likely to get the best treatment, resources, and attention on the topic. “Even though the [media’s] focus is on whites using prescription opioids and Blacks using illicit opioids” (illegally obtained prescription pills, or prohibited drugs such as heroin), “when you look at prescriptions…Blacks actually are at the same risk as whites,” says Dr. Virginia Chang, associate professor of population health at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, who co-authored the research with Gawon Cho, a doctoral student at NYU’s School of Global Public Health.

OxyContin and other opioid medication They were launchedAccording to the researchers, these drugs were initially prescribed for whites in higher numbers than Hispanics and Blacks in the 1990s. The potential reasons why are many, including racist stereotypes that some health care providers have historically held which discredit Black patients’ self-reports of pain, and a tendency for novel therapeutics to be used less among under-represented racial groups. But opioid prescriptions accelerated across racial groups in the early 2000s, driven by drug manufacturers’ aggressive advertising campaigns, efforts such as the American Pain Society’s promotion of pain as the “fifth vital sign” to make it top of mind for doctors, and the liberalizationthe law governing prescription of opioids. Black patients received more opioid prescriptions than whites. In fact, the rate of prescribing opioids to Black patients rose rapidly in 2000s. Although opioid abuse declined across all racial groups and ethnicities in the 2010s due to prescribing limitations, it is still a major problem.

Chang suggests that overdose deaths from Black Americans may have increased due to a narrower gap in prescription rates based on race. However, the increase of opioid prescriptions may provide potential benefits for Black patients—not just risks. Properly prescribed, opioids are effective in treating pain. Although the study didn’t examine the causes of opioid prescribing, it could indicate that the availability of opioids to Black patients is increasing. “Not every opioid prescription is bad,” says Chang.

The demographic differences between the two groups haven’t disappeared completely. Only 10.3% of Hispanic patients were given an opioid, according to the researchers. Hispanics are more likely to be prescribed opioids than whites or blacks, and the lagging numbers of Hispanics who have received them may help protect against opioid abuse. Chang says that the data could also indicate that these patients may not be getting adequate pain treatment. “For Hispanics, since they are getting fewer prescriptions and they have fewer overdoses, some portion of it could represent under-treatment.” The study notes that although Hispanic, Black and white populations have similar rates of chronic pain, Hispanic patients are less likely to receive opioids than white or Black patients with similar pain levels.

The research only looked at whether or not a patient had an opioid prescription—not the dosage prescribed, which other research has found to be significantly higher for white patients compared to Black patients. The research suggests that Black communities could need greater resources to treat addiction, given their historically limited access. AccessThere are medications to treat opiate addiction. The growing evidence that Black and white people alike often first encounter opioids through a doctor’s prescription could raise awareness that opioid addiction is, in many ways, a medical problem.


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