American Indians make up only 1.5% population of Minnesota, but Seven are many times more likely to die from drug overdoses than whites. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Minnesota 38th among all states in terms of overdose deaths, this number masks this existing racial disparity. Mille Lax and Cass counties have the highest rates of drug overdose deaths. Minnesota Department of Health.
Opioids are commonly used to treat pain, but they misuse and use without medical supervision can lead to opioid addiction and other health problems. Causes of an opiate overdose respiratory depression, generalized central nervous system (CNS) depression, and miosis. Miosis is an excessive constriction (contraction) of your pupil, also called “pinpoint pupil”. Babies born to mothers with chronic opiate use during pregnancy or sudden withdrawal after birth show signs of opioid withdrawal, called neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Babies with NOWS are more likely to be born prematurely and have a low birth weight. NOW eight times more common in the American Indian community compared to whites in Minnesota.
Minnesota has initiated action against opioid overdose by passing new legislative assembly reforms, allowing patients to access services faster, and adding essential services such as withdrawal management, care coordination, and peer support. The Parent-Child Assistance Pilot Program, a peer support program for mothers before and after childbirth, aims to increase access to life-saving medicines. naloxone.
While these are promising initiatives, we must focus on the populations most affected by the opioid crisis. The Minnesota Legislature knows that American Indians and African Americans bear the greatest burden of the opioid epidemic, but the state often unacceptable on federal grants due to the low overall death rate from opioids compared to other states.
Minnesota Opioid Action Plan highlights the necessary steps needed to address, prevent, and reduce the high rate of opioid-related deaths among the American Indian population.
How can Minnesota do better?
To help people of color, we must recognize the role that structural racism and classism play in our health care system and politics. The rise in preventable harm caused by the opioid epidemic is closely linked to the health and economic status of people of color. Improving living conditions, increasing employment opportunities and expanding access to health services can help combat this problem.
Some doctors see opioids as a way to increase their profits by using the lack of government regulation to sell drugs to anyone who walks through the clinic’s doors. Potential solutions include reducing the frequency of opioid prescribing by introducing fines against such providers who routinely prescribe excessive amounts of drugs and tightening existing regulation on opioid prescribing.
To achieve the goal of health equity, a change plan that targets communities of color must be the state’s top priority right now.
Vedushi M. Jane is a graduate student in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
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