Deaths were highest among adults aged 26 to 39 who live in affluent areas, followed by the age range of 40 to 64, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported. The study looked at deaths, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations broken down by region, age, gender, and ethnicity.
“White residents accounted for the largest number of fentanyl overdose deaths, ED visits, and hospitalizations, followed by Latinx, Black, and Asian residents,” the report said.
However, if you break down the ethnic groups compared to rates per 100,000 people, black residents were higher at 30%, compared to 22% for white residents, the report said.
“Even a tiny amount of fentanyl can cause death, especially for those without high tolerance,” the report said. “In the United States, fentanyl and its analogues have been increasingly involved in overdose deaths since 2013 and are now the most common drugs involved in fatal overdoses, accounting for 62% of all overdose deaths in 2020.”
The county began keeping statistics in 2016, when the number of accidental fentanyl deaths was 109. The figure more than doubled in 2020, going from 462 the year before to 1,149. Last year, 1,504 deaths were reported.
Most of the deaths were male, with 1,174 last year compared to 310 women. The number of deceased men has continued to be at least three times higher than women since 2016.
The researchers looked at the geographic areas around the county and found that downtown Los Angeles, which has the county’s largest black population, also had the highest number of deaths compared to East Los Angeles, bordering Orange County, and West Los Angeles, which includes Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
Affluent areas accounted for nearly half of the fatal overdoses at 48%, compared to 8% in poorer areas. But the picture changes when the data are calculated by population size.
“The rate of fentanyl overdose deaths per 100,000 population in the least affluent areas were more than triple than those of the most affluent areas — 38.4% vs. 12.3%,” the report said.