Why are opioid overdoses rising among Black Americans?

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Opioid-related deaths have risen since the pandemic, with Black men being the most affected demographic.

In 2020, Black men in Massachusetts died of overdoses 69 percent more than 2019, according to the state's public health department. In Philadelphia, overdose deaths rose by 29 percent among Black residents in 2020, even as they decreased by 10 percent among white residents, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Epidemiologists, public health experts, sociologists, and city officials have said that COVID-19 safety measures have contributed to the skyrocketing opioid-related death toll, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"We know for a fact that a lot of our fatal overdoses happened in the home," substance use epidemiologist Jewell Johnson told the newspaper. "People live alone and they’re not being checked on by family or friends, and the odds of fatally overdosing does increase. I think that’s the main difference in terms of fatalities from 2019 to fatalities for 2020."

The high unemployment rate Black Americans have experienced throughout the pandemic has only made the trend worse, as poverty and a lack of access to housing and healthcare make individuals more likely to fall into addiction.

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