Older Black Men Are More Prone To Opioid Deaths

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : January 17, 2022

The drug overdose crisis in the United States, which was once trapping the white people, now has been seen affecting the older black men in a higher number.

Older Black Men Are More Prone To Opioid Deaths

The death toll reported in 1999 was around 0.9 per 1 million population and has risen to 10.7 per 1 million population in 2019 for the black males of the age group 55 years and above. Over the years nearly 80,000 people have succumbed to the overdose of opioids, accounting for 80% of them in the age group of 55 to 65 years and 58% of them being male.

Older Black Men Are More Prone To Opioid Deaths

It had surged up to 40 deaths per million populations by 2019 among black males, four times the overall death rate of older adults.

Hispanic women, Asian and Pacific Islander men and women are immune to such things as they show relatively lower death cases not more than 3 people among a million and among Hispanic men, Black women, and American Indian or Alaska Native and white men and women amounting to 0.23 deaths per 100,000 population in 1999 to 12.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2019.

A great variation is observed among racial and ethnic subgroups in the rates of opioid overdose death among older adults.

The reports from a Kaiser Family Foundation, it was revealed that whites were more prone to opioid overdose death rate when compared with Black people, Hispanics, and a composite category including Asians or Pacific Islanders and American Indians or Alaska Natives for the last decade.

It was seen that for whites, the number had surged to 19.4 deaths per 1 million population in 2017 against 12.9 among Black individuals.

Recent years have seen an obscuring line between the two races in the opioid overdose death rate, with Blacks having 17.1 per million in 2019 against whites having 19 deaths per million, according to figures by KFF reports. The death rates were more among African Americans.

The four states namely, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio have witnessed a more number of deaths among Blacks increased by 38% from 2018 to 2019. Between 2006 to 2014, an increase of 220% has been observed in Emergency department visits for opioid misuse among the population of the age group of 65 years and older resulting in a significant shift in the demography accounting for opioid use disorder.

There were higher frequencies of intake of pain medications by white patients initially than Black patients. According to reports, the addition of the drug traces back to 2000 during the civil war; many were overdosed and resulting in the form of an epidemic.

These factors are strongly linked to the aging of the American population. The age complications that arrive like that of arthritis, cancer lead them to higher exposure to opioids.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests this as the third wave of the opioid epidemic marked by the presence of powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. Experts associate the increased presence of fentanyl with overdose among older adults.

The reason for more death rates in blacks they could find was that they are more likely to have no health insurance and less access to health care benefits. At the same time, a different report suggested that whites were treated with Buprenorphine which is a commonly used drug for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

The question of why older people could be associated with the fact that health care providers are less likely to investigate deeper into the older population for the substance-use disorder as the symptoms of aging sometimes are commingled with that of opioid use disorder.

But there is a need to go for increased screening among older people for the impacts of opioid overdose.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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