Latino Drug Fatalities Increased More Than 50% Due to Heroin Epidemic

Alcohol is the number one drug problem in the United States. In fact, about 18% of males over the age of 18 have had five or more drinks on one day at least once over the course of the last year. Drinking in moderation is fine, but when it becomes a habit, there are plenty of serious health concerns involved.

Sadly, there is another drug problem that is even more deadly and is wreaking havoc across small and large communities throughout the United States.

According to Greenhouse, there is an often-overlooked concern that threatens the lives of Hispanic individuals: alcohol and drug abuse. Throughout the country, the Latino population is rapidly growing, but, so too is the Hispanic addiction rate.

A few years ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that there are roughly 54 million people of Hispanic descent living in the United States — accounting for 17% of the nation’s population, the largest ethnic minority in America. As the population continues to grow, there will likely be a significant increase in Hispanic drug and alcohol abuse as well. In fact, Hispanics who do not follow their traditional and cultural customs are actually 13 times more likely to use illegal drugs.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, Latino drug fatalities increased 52.5% during just a two-year period from 2014 to 2016.

“I’m a serious addict,” said Julio Cesar Santiago, a 44-year-old Hispanic user. “I still have dreams where I’m about to use drugs, and I have to wake up and get on my knees and pray, ‘Let God take this away from me,’ because I don’t want to go back. I know that if I go back out there, I’m done.”

Opioid overdose fatalities among Latinos are surging across the country. Though the overall death toll is higher for whites, it’s looking worse and worse for Latinos and non-whites.

“What we thought initially, that this was a problem among non-Hispanic whites, is not quite accurate,” added Robert Anderson, mortality statistics branch chief at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “If you go back into the data, you can see the increases over time in all of these groups, but we tended to focus on the non-Hispanic whites because the rates were so much higher.”

Additionally, the Los Angeles Times reports that a surge in drug-related documentary films is hoping to shine light on the growing epidemic across the country.

HBO’s documentary “Warning: This Drug May Kill You,” Showtime’s documentary “The Trade,” and Matthew Heinemann and Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s “Heroin(e)” and “Recovery Boys” are showing how heroin and similar drugs are ruining lives and families across the country.

“It was fascinating to me that all these people, whether poppy growers in Guerrero, Mexico, or the addicts in Atlanta or law enforcement in Columbus, Ohio — everyone is trapped in this perpetual cycle of the drug war and with that, comes violence and heartbreak,” added Heineman. “Building walls and treating it as a war, this historical way of tackling the issue, has not helped and I think that we as a nation, communities and individuals, need to start thinking about this as a healthcare issue.”

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