Photo courtesy of Hispanicize

When you hear about overdoses, you often think of famous cases that are heavily romanticized due to popular culture. Many people connect overdoses to pop culture tragedies such as the emblematic English singer Amy Winehouse’s drug addiction or American rapper Mac Miller’s overdose in 2018. 

However, the overdose crisis expands more than that — and it’s not romantic in any aspect. It’s an ongoing epidemic that’s affected people globally, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unfortunate truth is that overdoses have significantly increased since 2020. A recent study notes how the pandemic unequally affected “a wide range of health, social, and economic outcomes among racial and ethnic minoritized communities,” which include the overdose aftermath that came with it. The same study pointed out that Hispanic or Latino individuals’ overdose rates increased by 40.1 percent in 2020 compared to prior studies in 2015.

Before the pandemic, though, drug-related overdoses were already a huge eye-opener in the Latino community. Which drugs affect the Latino community the most? According to Drug Policy, illegal opioids are one of the main reasons for these overdose deaths among the Latino community. Their research in 2017 showed that 40.2 percent of the overdose deaths were due to fentanyl, 31.2 percent were due to heroin, and 26.8 percent were due to cocaine.

Even before the study above, in 2017, the numbers were continuously increasing. NPR reported that fatalities (in this case, precisely due to opioids) rose 52.5 percent from 2014 to 2016.

These are the specific and alarming numbers we don’t necessarily hear about on mass media.

Based on these historical stats, it appears that an unfortunate epidemic is increasing. While we have articles detailing the crisis, there should be more consistent public announcements about how it affects our community, especially now when we’re still discovering how the pandemic and post-pandemic trauma affects people.

What can we do knowing this information? We can continue taking care of our family and loved ones. We can monitor any changes we see or suspect in those abusing drugs.

Do you know someone who has a drug addiction? A way to help them not be part of these increasing overdose-related statistics is by researching ways to help them.

And as a community, we can battle against these tragedies by being alert and sharing information that many of us don’t know about.