WEBINAR: How the History of Racism is Negatively Affecting our Response to the Opioid Overdose Epidemic

On May 27th, CLASP hosted a webinar on the opioid overdose epidemic. The resounding narrative suggests that the impact of the opioid overdose epidemic has primarily occurred in predominantly white, rural communities. However, death rates have also risen for many communities of color. Understanding the current response to the opioid epidemic, and how to remedy it, involves a closer look at what barriers have existed for communities of color, which often lie beyond the realm of behavioral health. This discussion framed those historical and legislative constraints, and explored how we can adapt the current response.


This webinar drew from CLASP’s publication Between the Lines: Understanding Our Country’s Response to the Opioid Overdose Epidemic. This report, by Isha WeerasingheYesenia Jimenez, and Bruce Wilson, provides an overview of how history and the response to the opioid overdose epidemic play a part in widening health inequities, and what we need to do. Unless we figure out how to make significant upstream economic and policy changes, we will continue to see inequities in prevention, screening, and treatment, resulting in greater racial disparities in opioid overdose and substance use disorders (SUD) overall.


  •  Isha Weerasinghe is a senior policy analyst focused on mental health and sits in CLASP’s youth team. She works on how CLASP’s issue areas impact individuals’ mental and behavioral health, with a specific focus on young adults and mothers. She has a bachelor’s in arts degree in biology from Bryn Mawr College, and a master’s in science degree in health policy and demography from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Kimá Joy Taylor, MD, MPH, is the Managing Principal of Anka Consulting, a health care consulting firm. A pediatrician, Taylor is a graduate of Brown University, Brown University School of Medicine, and the Georgetown University residency program in pediatrics. 


Additional Resources: 

Webinar Slides

Opioid Overdose Timeline Infographic

Opioids and Race: Executive Summary