Deaths from drug overdoses surge in some Black communities amid COVID-19

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Kanika Turner:

Yes, I think what’s driving those numbers is definitely multifactorial, I think a few things on the streets, with the drug supply changing, with the pandemic.

So, when we went through the shutdown, we saw a significant change in the drug supply. And whenever you see a change in drug supply, that that definitely increase someone’s risk for an overdose.

On the streets, we typically saw a lot of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. With the shutdown across the world pretty much, we started to see heroin return on the streets. Well, heroin is not as potent as fentanyl. So whenever you have a significant change like that, and then people go back to using fentanyl, we then increase someone’s risk for an overdose.

And I think other things that took place, the stay-at-home order, people were no longer able to safely use. We needed to get into the hands more Naloxone to reverse overdoses, because, unfortunately, there were significant delays with 911 or emergency response services being able to respond to overdoses at the home.

I think the other thing, too, is just, when we look at the health care system, we had to quickly transition to telemedicine. And that was something that was unheard of in the addiction medicine world being able to offer telemedicine for substance use services.

So, unfortunately, the pandemic pretty much ripped this Band-Aid off of our health care system, and unroofed many, many disparities and inequities that we are dealing with right now. And, unfortunately, our Black males have continued to suffer during this time.