There are multiple aspects of the opioid crisis among Black people, who have been left out of the broader conversation. Despite evidence of increased opioid overdose deaths, less is known about opioid use among Black people. This review synthesizes research on Black people who use opioids; the goals are to advance knowledge, highlight research gaps, and inform clinical practice.
This rapid review investigating opioid use among Black people utilized systematic review methods and was conducted according to a predefined protocol with clear inclusion criteria (PROSPERO ID: 177071). A comprehensive search strategy was used, including published and gray-literature sources (i.e., literature that has not been formally published). A narrative summary of the results is presented.
A total of 76 works were selected for inclusion and full text review. Sex, age, geographic location, and involvement in the carceral system were associated with the use of opioids among Black individuals. Non-epidemiologic factors included treatment-seeking patterns, disparate clinician prescribing, and social determinants.
Through this rapid review we suggest three main areas of focus: (1) including culturally informed collection methods in epidemiologic surveys to accurately reflect prevalences, (2) funding research that specifically addresses the importance of culture in accessing treatment, and (3) directly studying how social determinants can improve or exacerbate health outcomes. Focusing on the unique needs of Black people who use opioids is warranted to increase treatment initiation and adherence among a population less likely to engage with the traditional health care system.