Study Shows White Men Between Ages 30 and 39 at Highest Risk for Fatal Opioid Overdoses

A new study examining records from the Ohio Health Department from 2010 to 2017 found that white men between the ages of 30 and 39 had the highest risk for fatal opioid overdoses.

A new study examining records from the Ohio Health Department from 2010 to 2017 found that white men between the ages of 30 and 39 had the highest risk for fatal opioid overdoses. In addition, black men aged 30 to 39 were affected by opioid fatalities at disproportionate rates compared with the total population, according to researchers at the University of Cincinnati.1

Diego Cuadros, University of Cincinnati’s head of Health Geography and Disease Modeling Laboratory, and his colleagues analyzed 12 clusters or hot zones across Ohio where the rate of fatal overdoses is highest. These geographic areas were home to 21% of the state’s at-risk population but witnessed 40% of the opiate-related mortalities in Ohio over the 8 years examined.2

In terms of why some populations seem more susceptible to opiate addiction, Cuadros said that researchers are just beginning the conversation to figure out what is driving this.

“Opiates desensitize natural endorphins so you don't get the same feeling of contentment as you would otherwise from daily activities like exercise or food or fun activities,” Cuadros said in a press release. “Each time you'll need more and more opiates.”1

According to the study’s lead author, Andres Hernandez, University of Cincinnati doctoral student, substance abuse disorders are complex and can be influenced by family history, economic welfare, and mental health.1

“For example, an individual with relatives who suffered substance abuse disorders is 10 times more likely to suffer from substance abuse,” Hernandez said in a press release. “I think understanding the characteristics of the population with higher risk will result in better strategies to mitigate the epidemic.”1

The analysis by the University of Cincinnati suggests that there are several phases of the epidemic, the latest of which has shown a rise in fentanyl use in the opioid epidemic.1

“It is more potent than other prescription opioids. And it seems to be cheaper to produce and distribute,” Cuadros said in the press release. “So, we’re getting a new element in the epidemic.” 1

Cuadros hopes to expand the analysis on a nationwide level using data provided by the CDC. If not, a similar analysis conducted in Kentucky and West Virginia would be a great start due to their opioid epidemic, Cuadros said in a press release.1

REFERENCES

  • Populations most at risk of opiate addiction. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200319125140.htm. Published March 19, 2020. Accessed March 24, 2020.
  • Miller, Michael. Psych Central: Ohio study IDs those highest at risk for opioid addiction. https://www.uc.edu/news/articles/2020/03/n2089951html. Published March 23, 2020. Accessed March 24, 2020.