Opioid abuse & poverty is not fate

[This is a draft synopsis of an original manuscript now available.]


In 2020 each day, more than 136 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and abuse of opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl— is a serious national crisis that affects public health, as well as, social and economic welfare. Now, in 2022, the deaths each day continue to paint a picture of the dire situation:

  • More than 100 people die every day from opioid overdoses.
  • Overall life expectancy in the U.S. has declined since 2019 due in large part to the opioid epidemic.
  • Overdoses kill more Americans than car crashes or gun violence.
  • Opioid addiction obviously contributes to prison sentencing. And the CDC reported in 2010, 85% of the U.S. prison population was incarcerated for substance-related reasons, with over half of all inmates diagnosed with substance use disorders.
Sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Disadvantaged groups often face issues of safety and violence at higher rates than others in the community, but this is not always the case.

According to the Kaiser Foundation, “The vast majority of those who overdose on opioids are non-Hispanic white Americans, who made up close to 70 percent of the annual total in 2020. Black Americans and Hispanic Americans accounted for about 17 and 12 percent of cases, respectively. Economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have argued that the rise in what they call “deaths of despair”—which include drug overdoses, particularly among white Americans without college degrees—is primarily the result of wages stagnating over the last four decades and a decline in available jobs.

Children in Tulsa County experience abuse and neglect at higher rates than the national average. Additionally, there are racial disparities in homicide victimization and large disparities by region of the city in DVIS calls.

NPR published a study in which the study authors call for an “antiracist public health approach” to address the crisis in Black communities. The study, conducted in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, analyzed overdose data and death certificates from four states: Kentucky, Ohio, Massachusetts and New York. It found that the rate of opioid deaths among Black people increased by 38% from 2018 to 2019, while rates for other racial and ethnic groups did not rise.

The PACE TULSA NETWORK manuscript called, “Opioid Abuse & Poverty is not Fate,” explores some of the more complex issues challenging people impacted by drug counterculture. In 2018, an estimated 2 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders. Shatterproof.org reports that “Addiction costs our country more than $740 billion each year. And the costs keep rising. We’re hemorrhaging money on this crisis, and all that spending is not doing much to protect our loved ones.” 

For the full paper contact PTN by email: information@pacetulsa.com

COPYRIGHT | 2022 © PACE AGS FOUNDATION. “Pedestrian Awareness Crosswalk Education is an online think-tank intersecting awareness of public transportation policy in the United States.”

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