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Racial/Ethnic and Geographic Trends in Combined Stimulant/Opioid Overdoses, 2007–2019

Posted 2/16/2022 (updated 3/26/2024)

In the United States, combined stimulant/opioid overdose mortality has risen dramatically over the last decade. These increases may particularly affect non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic populations. We used death certificate data from the US National Center for Health Statistics (2007–2019) to compare state-level trends in overdose mortality due to opioids in combination with 1) cocaine and 2) methamphetamine and other stimulants (MOS) across racial/ethnic groups (non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic Asian American/Pacific Islander). To avoid unstable estimates from small samples, we employed principles of small area estimation and a Bayesian hierarchical model, enabling information-sharing across groups. Black Americans experienced severe and worsening mortality due to opioids in combination with both cocaine and MOS, particularly in eastern states. Cocaine/opioid mortality increased 575% among Black people versus 184% in White people (Black, 0.60 to 4.05 per 100,000; White, 0.49 to 1.39 per 100,000). MOS/opioid mortality rose 16,200% in Black people versus 3,200% in White people (Black, 0.01 to 1.63 per 100,000; White, 0.09 to 2.97 per 100,000). Cocaine/opioid overdose mortality rose sharply among Hispanic and Asian Americans. State-group heterogeneity highlighted the importance of data disaggregation and methods to address small sample sizes. Research to understand the drivers of these trends and expanded efforts to address them are needed, particularly in minoritized groups.