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In a pandemic, drug overdose deaths surge among African Americans – NBC Chicago

She screamed and cried, hit the dashboard, and asked her husband to drive faster and faster to his brother, who was lying on the floor in the bedroom.

Craig Elazer had been suffering from anxiety for the rest of his life and was in such a terrible state that his whole body trembled. But because he was black, she said she was seen as unmanageable, not as someone in need of help. 56-year-old Elazer began taking medication to paralyze his nerves before he was old enough to drive a car.

Now his sister Michelle Branch is rushing to his apartment in a poor, mostly black neighborhood in northern St. Louis. His mother had already paid for his funeral in monthly installments because his family was afraid of the day he would die from an overdose.

It was September, and many such black neighborhoods suffered most seriously as the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the crisis of American addiction in almost every corner of the country. Trendy portraits of the country’s opioids have long been portrayed as white pain in the countryside, but demographics have shifted for years due to the surge in deaths among black Americans. The pandemic hastened this trend by further flooding the streets with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl in communities that lack the resources to deal with addiction.

In the city of St. Louis, the number of black deaths tripled last year compared to whites, a surge of more than 33% in a year.

Dr. Kanika Turner, a local doctor who is leading the effort to contain the crisis, explains that the surge in mortality is more pressing than any other issue as a civil rights issue. She said the most devastated community was devastated by the drug war, demonizing black drug users and hollowing out the neighborhood by sending black men to jail instead of treatment. ..

Last year, George Floyd died in Minneapolis under the knees of a police officer. He had fentanyl in his system and some of the officer’s defenders tried to blame the drug for his death. The world was furious.

“The pandemic incident shook the boat and shook us all. It always stripped the band-aid from the wounds that were there,” Turner said. “We are reversing the history of damage, the history of trauma, and the history of racism.”

The strict rulings passed in the 1980s were far more cruel to crack cocaine users, who are likely to be black, than to powder cocaine users, who are likely to be white.

Many who work with black drug users have accepted addiction as a public health crisis until the current opioid epidemic began in the late 1990s and addiction to prescription opioids took root primarily in the struggle. It states that it was not possible. -White community.

When the whites began to die and the television people talked about how they needed to be saved from this public health tragedy, Brunch wondered where they were when her brother was swirling with addiction. I did.

She can’t count how many times her brother tried to calm down.

Even today, blacks are more likely to be put in jail for drug crimes and less likely to be treated.

Whites are much more likely to take the drug buprenorphine than black patients, which has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of death from overdose. Instead, blacks tend to be piloted towards methadone and are distributed in highly regulated programs that need to be lined up daily before dawn.

Over the past few years, drug supplies have become very unpredictable, and overdose people have multiple drugs in the system: fentanyl, inhibitors, and dangerous cocktails of stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine.

Deaths have begun to skyrocket among African Americans. The pandemic strengthened that trend by further flooding the streets with fentanyl.

Similar patterns were seen in other cities.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 92,000 Americans died from overdose in the 12 months to November. This is the highest number ever. The CDC data is not categorized by race.

However, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles analyzed emergency medical calls across the country and found that overdose deaths increased by 42% overall in 2020. The largest increase was for blacks, with a surge of over 50%.

Craig Eller’s family was afraid of his death for decades.

He was a bright kid: By grade 3, he was able to read as well as grade 6.

But he was anxious and anxious. If he was treated, Brunch believes he is alive.

“But at the time, especially small black children, we didn’t catch hyperactivity disorder or bipolar disorder. We were far from being unruly, undisciplined, and so animal. “Branch said.

He started taking it at the age of 12 and advanced to narcotics.

Their mother got sick with pancreatic cancer, but she stayed for years. Her family believed she was hugging, fearing what would happen to her son.

She still worried about him and died.

He went in and out of prison mainly for misdemeanors. A few years ago, an acquaintance claimed to have sexually assaulted her while he was using drugs and alcohol. According to Mr. Brunch, his lawyer told them that he could oppose him as a black man accused of assaulting a white woman. He pleaded guilty and spent three years in prison.

He was released in May 2020 as the pandemic subsided.

He couldn’t find a job. There was no direct recovery meeting. He was almost alone.

One night they couldn’t contact him. His cousin looked into the mailslot and saw him lying there.

The brunch rushed to his apartment and was hysterical by the time she arrived.

They tried to persuade her not to go in, but she wanted to see him.

She felt calm as the brunch looked down at his body.

“Society has made him fail,” she said. “And I felt he was finally released.”

In a pandemic, drug overdose deaths surge among African Americans – NBC Chicago

Source link In a pandemic, drug overdose deaths surge among African Americans – NBC Chicago

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