NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 06: Michael pauses where he and a fellow addict live in the South Bronx neighborhood which has the highest rate of heroin-involved overdose deaths in the city on October 6, 2017 in New York City. Like Staten Island, parts of the Bronx are experiencing an epidemic in drug use, especially heroin and other opioid based drugs. More than 1,370 New Yorkers died from overdoses in 2016, the majority of those deaths involved opioids. According to the Deputy Attorney General, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Black Americans have felt the brute force of discrimination in many areas, including and especially public health. Startling statistics on drug-related death rates among people of color have jolted us into a national panic in the past, and a new analysis by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and Well Being Trust (WBT)may likely do the same thing in the present.

African-Americans have seen disproportionally large increases in drug deaths, with a rise of 12.6 to 17.6 deaths per 100,000, or 39 percent, between 2015 and 2016. Black folks have the biggest rise in deaths, topping Whites with a 19 percent increase and other racial and ethnic minority groups, including Latinos with a 24 percent increase in that time period. The record-high elevation in rates is also rather drastic considering Blacks had “relatively low” drug overdose rates —averaging 35 percent lower than Whites between 2006 and 2015.

Oddly enough, Black Americans have had lower drug, alcohol and suicide death rates than White Americans in that time period, TFAH, a Washington, D.C. based health policy organization, and WBT, a national health improvement foundation, reported in their November 2017 Pain in the Nation: The Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Epidemics and the Need for a National Resilience Strategy.

Suicide rates among Blacks and Latinos in 2016 also dramatically climbed more than other demographic groups with 10 and 9 percent increases, respectively.

The dramatically sharp rises in death rates bring more attention to proposed solutions to address racial disparities when it comes to health, especially concerning discrimination’s harmful effects on people of color.

TFAH and WBT suggested a “National Resilience Strategy” that takes a “comprehensive approach by focusing on prevention, early identification of issues and effective treatment.” Both organizations have ideas to lower excessive alcohol consumption, improve pain management and treatment for various diseases as well as target the Opioid crisis.

These organizations need legislative and public support to accomplish their goals to end drug-related deaths and racial health disparities. Folks can get involved with the organizations’ ramping up their fight on their website: Healthy Americans.

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