Overdose Deaths Among Black Women: High and Rising

Rebecca Arden Harris

Dr. Harris

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rebecca Arden Harris, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The impact of the nationwide overdose epidemic on Black women has received little attention from policy-makers, researchers, or the press.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response:  Over the 7-year study period, preventable overdose deaths among Black women resulted in nearly 0.75 million years of life lost (YLL). Women aged 25-34 have suffered a rising proportion of this burden.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings document an unacceptably high and growing overdose mortality burden for Black women in the US, with overdoses now ranking as the fourth leading cause of death among Black women, exceeded only by cancer, heart disease, and COVID-19. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: This study underscores the urgent need for accessible, gender- and race-sensitive drug treatment and harm reduction programs for Black female individuals.

No disclosures to report.


Harris RA, Mandell DS. Years of Life Lost to Drug Overdose Among Black Female Individuals in the US, 2015-2021. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online December 14, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.4194

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Last Updated on December 15, 2022 by Marie Benz MD FAAD