Health Inequities Worsen Disparities in Overdose Death Rates


In 2020, there were 91,799 drug overdose deaths in the United States, an overall increase of 30% from 2019.[1] Key differences emerge when examining overdose death rates by race and ethnicity:

  • There was a 44% increase in drug overdose death rates for non-Hispanic Blacks.
  • There was a 39% increase in drug overdose death rates for non-Hispanic American Indians or Alaska Natives (AI/AN).

Social determinants of health, including income inequality and barriers to accessing substance use treatment and harm reduction services, are likely exacerbating these disparities in overdose death rates. In order to address these disparities, overdose prevention strategies must be culturally responsive and must target social determinants of health.

For more information see:

NIHCM Foundation - Visualizing the Impact of the Opioid Overdose Crisis

[1] Kariisa M, Davis NL, Kumar S, et al. Vital Signs: Drug overdose deaths, by selected sociodemographic and social determinants of health characteristics — 25 States and the District of Columbia, 2019–2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:940–947.