Problematic Pills: Opioid Epidemic Weighs Financially On Black Community

By CultureBanx Team

  • The opioid crisis has cost the U.S. economy $92 billion in lost productivity
  • In 2020 17% of opioid overdose were by African Americans

For the past several years, American attention has been fixated on fighting opioid overdoses, revealing communities in economic and social distress. This crisis has cost the U.S. economy $29 billion in lost productivity, $35 billion in healthcare costs, and $14.8 billion in criminal justice costs. The government bears less than one-third of the financial costs, with the rest falling on individuals and the private sector. Unfortunately, the related plagues of drug abuse and death have stalked African-American communities for decades, garnering little to no attention leaving one to question just how vulnerable are they  economically?

Why This Matters: The disparities in attention, resources and long-term strategies have led to a tale of two opioid crises. Especially in the Black community where opioid use has been criminalized and largely ignored. The dangers of misusing prescription drugs comes from the opioid crisis, and in 2020 17% of opioid overdose were by African Americans. Washington DC has the highest African American opioid overdose rate at 82.5%, according to KFF.

The biggest cost burden fell on families due to lost earnings of those who died

The opioid crisis not only increases costs and lowers productivity throughout the economy, it also prematurely ends lives, which have value beyond their effect on economic output. However, the biggest cost burden fell on families due to lost earnings of those who died. Those mortality costs alone came to more than $72 billion in 2018, according to a report by the Society of Actuaries. Since the average black family makes less than $40,000 a year, dealing with lost income can put them in a dire financial and economic place. Additionally, A U.S. News analysis using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data found between 2014 and 2017, the fatal opioid overdose rate among blacks rose by 130%, more than twice the 61.5% surge for whites over that period.

Situational Awareness: The opioid crisis in Black America is practically hidden in plain sight, and its growth has many causes, meaning ending the crisis requires many solutions. In fiscal years 2018 and 2019, $6 billion in new funding was secured to fight opioid abuse, including to expand access to medication-assisted treatment. Though there’s no real link to show if this capital is flowing to minority communities struggling to overcome the opioid epidemic.

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CultureBanx Team

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