Speed Reads

By the numbers

The opioid epidemic is devastating Native American communities

White people in rural areas are the popular face of the opioid epidemic, but The Washington Post reports that a closer look at the numbers shows Native American communities have been hit the hardest.

Of course, there are far more white people than Native Americans in the United States, so there are also far more white people who suffer opioid addiction and overdose. However, the proportionate increase in overdose among Native American populations is much, much higher:

More than 52,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2015 — a more than 200 percent increase from 16 years ago, according to a Centers for Disease Control report. The epidemic is especially centered outside cities and among Native Americans and whites. Deaths rose by 325 percent over the same period when you look only at rural areas, and by more than 500 percent among Native Americans and native Alaskans. [The Washington Post]

In fact, while white people overdose from heroin specifically at a slightly higher rate than Native Americans, overdose deaths from opioid use in general are more common among Native Americans than any other ethnic group:

The Post's Monday report cites commentary on intergenerational trauma from Pew Charitable Trusts as a piece of the explanation for this disparity. Read the Pew analysis here.