As you will be able to see, the death for white individuals is considerably higher than other races as it pertains to the opioid epidemic. Robert asked us to list why we think this may be and why it is not being addressed as much publicly. Here are our thoughts:
Opioids tend to make up a higher percentage of whites drug of choice compared to other races. (Example: crack seems to higher within the Black/African American community).
Although this has been touched on at various meetings when discussing data, I do not believe with the heightened political climate it is something that many want to focus on currently; as many groups already feel the only reason the opioid epidemic has received so much attention and resources is because it is affecting white constituents and families at a higher rate then other communities of color (as compared to the crack epidemic in the 80s and early 90s that resulted in increased crime and violence in inner city neighborhoods as well as tough on crime policies that were seen as discriminatory against minorities, mostly blacks, who were more likely to use crack).
An observation from some of our clients in York County who have overdosed (resulting in death) is that they will still use alone (despite our warnings) and if their drugs contain fentanyl, whether they have Narcan or not, they can’t save themselves. Addiction is a beast, and the stigma surrounding it does not help.
Melinda Zipp, Director
Lancaster, Harrisburg, York Harm Reduction Projects