No Walls –

August 12, 2020 – Nationally, Hispanic people, the category selected by data, see far lower rates of overdose deaths than non-Hispanic white people. But Hispanic people are not a monolith, and there is concerning variation within the broad category. In fact, Puerto Ricans died at a slightly higher rate from drugs in 2017 than non-Hispanic whites, according to a study by Manuel Cano, professor of social work at University of Texas, San Antonio, published in Substance Use & Misuse on July 25.

Cano suggests that this could be related to where most Puerto Ricans reside in the United States and the types of drugs they’re using. The eastern part of the country, where many live, has been “inundated with deadly synthetic opioids such as fentanyl that elevate risk of fatal overdose,” he wrote. Accordingly, Puerto Ricans, who have by far the highest rate of fatal overdose among Hispanic people, had the largest proportion of deaths (65 percent) involving synthetic opioids.

Fatalities involving specific drugs were differently distributed across national heritage. Psychostimulants, which usually means methamphetamine, were most involved in fatal overdoses among Mexican-Americans, the only Hispanic community where synthetic opioids like fentanyl were not involved in the highest proportion of deaths. In contrast, nearly half (47 percent) of Dominican-Americans’ deaths involved cocaine.



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