New Research Sends Stark Warning of Rise in Overdose Deaths Among Latino Population in California

Press Release March 18, 2021
Media Contact

Matt Sutton (202) 556-3291‬‬
[email protected]

Los Angeles, CA – Today, the Drug Policy Alliance released The Impact of the Overdose Crisis on the Latino Community in California, new research that uncovers the often-overlooked impact of the overdose crisis on the Latino population in California. DPA commissioned the study–conducted by Dr. Avelardo Valdez, a professor and researcher at the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work–and helped draft concrete policy recommendations to help mitigate the rise in overdoses among this community.

“While overdose deaths among the Latino population have historically been lower than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States, we are starting to see a very troubling trend that suggests a sharp rate of increase. These groups have been largely overlooked when it comes to providing access to resources to curb the overdose crisis, and intervention is urgently needed to avoid a health emergency,” said Jeannette Zanipatin, Director of DPA’s California Policy Office. “This research is a canary in the coal mine warning us that it’s time to wake up and ensure Latino populations in California—and across the country–receive the same attention that has been paid to other communities to protect against vulnerability to increasing overdose rates.”

In particular, this research uncovered some startling trends, including:


In California:

When the data is broken down by county in California, the impacts are even harsher. The research found that the overdose rates in Lassen, Lake, San Francisco, Nevada and Mendocino Counties were significantly higher than the state or national average. Simply looking at state-level statistics has historically not shown the full extent of harm.

The brief outlines key policy recommendations that should be considered in order to mitigate the consequences of the overdose crisis and its impacts on Latino communities in California and more broadly. Some of the recommendations include:

The full brief and complete list of policy recommendations can be found here.

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