New CDC report shows need for equitable approach in overdose prevention

Vermont lawmakers and advocates want to reframe the conversation around the overdose crisis...
Vermont lawmakers and advocates want to reframe the conversation around the overdose crisis after the governor vetoed a bill which would have explored so-called safe injection sites. - File photo(WCAX)
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 6:35 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The increase in overdose death rates in the U.S. is hitting some minority communities particularly hard.

That’s one of the big takeaways from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest report.

From 2019 to 2020 - we know overdose death rates rose 30 percent overall. But the CDC now says that rate for American Indian and Alaska Natives is close to 39 percent and even higher for Black Americans at 44 percent.

Dr. Debra E. Houry, CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director and Director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said during the CDC’s telebriefing on the report Tuesday that the data show troubling trends and widening disparities when it comes to overdose deaths.

This new Vital Signs report took data from 25 states - including Virginia.

While most who died had no evidence of substance use treatment before their deaths, the proportion of people who did get treatment was lower among racial and ethnic minorities than among White people.

The CDC says nationwide, we need to incorporate prevention and treatment options that address these disparities.

“Offer structural support such as housing assistance, transportation assistance and child care to improve peoples ability to access care.” said Houry. “...When suitable combine culturally appropriate traditional practices, spirituality and religion with evidence- based substance use disorder treatment.”

This report also shows in areas where there is a larger income gap between the rich and the poor, the rates of overdose deaths are higher.

The CDC says overall, more work needs to be done to reduce sigma around substance use disorder and its treatment.

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