NJ CARES Data by Race

NJ CARES Data by Race

The Opioid Epidemic’s Impact on Communities of Color

Because drug addiction strikes all demographics regardless of race, gender, age, and socio-economic status, it is often said that the opioid epidemic “does not discriminate.”  Although addiction is indeed colorblind, people of color are dying from opioid overdoses at higher rates across the country compared to the white population. When we talk about combatting the opioid epidemic, we also need to talk about race and racial justice.

In the Garden State, where Black/African-Americans and Hispanic/Latinos comprise 15% and 21%, respectively, of the total population, overdose deaths among those residents are rising faster than the rest of the population.  

For example, in 2015, the face of the opioid epidemic was overwhelmingly white.  Blacks and Hispanics collectively accounted for less than 25% of all drug overdose deaths in New Jersey. 

By 2021, Blacks and Hispanics represented approximately 40% of all suspected drug-related deaths in New Jersey. Data collected and analyzed by our Division of State Police’s Office of Drug Monitoring & Analysis (ODMA) shows that from 2015 through December 5, 2021, drug-related deaths among Blacks rose 256%, and deaths among Hispanics rose 189%, compared to a 38% increase among the State’s white population. 

That sharp increase is nothing short of alarming.  It is a stark reminder that we must remain acutely aware of the racial injustices and systemic inequities that continue to plague underserved communities. These numbers underscore the need for a racially inclusive approach to addressing the opioid crisis, and we are committed to that path, so that no one is left behind.

To raise public awareness about the opioid epidemic’s increasing toll on communities of color, NJ CARES recently co-hosted a statewide webinar that shared ODMA data about the increasing number of drug-related deaths occurring among our Black and Hispanic neighbors, family members, friends, and co-workers, as well as some insight into societal causes for this disparate impact. To view the webinar and learn more, please visit:

Drug-Related Death Data

(pdf format download)

Naloxone Administration Data

(pdf format download)

Admissions Data

(pdf format download)

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