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    African Americans and Opioids

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    John Katz and Abby Goodnough explain in their article The Opioid Crisis is getting worse, particularly for Black Americans written in 2017; how Fentanyl, a fast-racing narcotic analgesic and sedative, which is sometimes abused for its heroin-like effect; is the leading cause of death in African Americans between the ages of 45-64 since the year of 2016. This article explains how African Americans in urban areas are dying more from this epidemic than any other race combined. It also goes on to say that life expectancy in the United States of America declined significantly last year. Interestingly, those who use the drug Fentanyl are commonly found among men of the older generation contrary to what most people think. As mentioned in the article this could be a direct result of a heroin epidemic that was widespread in the United States of America during the 1970s. Since Fentanyl and Heroin give off some of the same effects this is not surprising. This epidemic since 2016 is now mainly a huge problem in the United States of America. The article showed how a conducted study concluded the top three states in America that are extremely affected by this new Fentanyl epidemic, those mentioned are New Hampshire, Ohio, and West Virginia. This epidemic is a growing problem in the United States and if left unchecked could cause more deaths among Black Americans. It could also lead to more devastating drug overdose deaths in the future.

    In an article directed mainly toward Americans living in the United States, John Katz and Abby Goodnough inform readers of the Fentanyl epidemic, a rising cause of death among Black Americans since the year of 2016. This epidemic has proved to cause so many drug overdose deaths. The purpose for John Katz and Abby Goodnough to write this article is primarily to make their audience aware of this problem and give evidence as to why this problem even exists, with the hope of building towards a future where the Fentanyl epidemic is no longer the leading cause of death among older Black Americans. The authors accomplish this goal in different ways, but they make their purpose for writing clear by using the three different forms of rhetoric called ethos, logos, and pathos.

    Ethos means to convince an audience that they are a reliable source. The authors use this technique throughout the article to show credibility. More people are willing to believe that something is true or factual if the information directly comes from people who are highly educated on the topic being discussed. When trying to get across to their audience that mainly the older black American generation is affected by the Fentanyl epidemic the authors use a quote from Denise Paone when she says, “what’s really interesting is you’re not seeing younger blacks getting involved in heroin as much” ( Katz and Goodnough). She is mentioned in the article as being “The Director of Research and Surveillance in New York City’s Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention” (Katz and Goodnough), which means that she is well educated on the topic. Another example of the authors use ethos is when they use a quote form Robert Anderson who is the “Chief of the National Center for Health Statistics” (Katz and Goodnough). He claims that “as overdose deaths keep climbing, there is a good chance that life expectancy will be found to have declined again this year” ( Katz and Goodnough). This quote conveys to the audience how serious the Fentanyl epidemic is if things are not put into place to fix the problem, which goes back to the purpose of this article which is to inform the audience of an increasing opioid problem. By having credibility in the evidence it makes the audience more willing to hear what Katz and Goodnough have to say.

    Logos, or the appeal to logic is used right from the start of the article when the authors throw in the fact that “Centers for Disease Control…reveal that the drug death rate is rising most steeply among blacks, with those between the ages of 45 and 64” (Katz and Goodnough). This quote is not only an example of logos because it uses statistics to convey a point, but it also reinforces the message in the article that this epidemic effects more so the older generation. This, however, is not the only area in which the authors use logos to convey the purpose of the article. Another example of this is they include that “Drug deaths among blacks in urban counties rose by 41 percent in 2016, far outpacing any other racial or ethnic group” (Katz and Goodnough). The authors of the article also want the audience to know how closely linked this epidemic is to a previous problem that affected many Americans in the United States. This is evident when they said, “many of the African Americans who died were older men who had become addicted to heroin during a previous epidemic in the 1970s” (Katz and Goodnough). As mentioned before the drug Fentanyl is known for its heroin-like effects and it would make since that those effected by the epidemic in the 1970s would also be effected by this new epidemic. The techniques used here reinforces the main idea of the article. It helps the audience to glance into the author’s way of thinking.

    Pathos is the appeal to different emotions. In such a discussion as this one it is simple to use pathos to appeal to an audience. This is a good thing considering the fact that this article is mainly designed to inform people of a problem and call them to action to combat the problem, or to put a certain thing in place to help decrease the effect of the problem. This is exactly what John Katz and Abby Goodnough accomplished in this article. For example, they used the technique of pathos when the authors stated that “Fentanyl contributed to the deaths of five African Americans in 2014, 25 in 2015, and 58 in 2016” (Katz and Goodnough). Death is a topic that will always appeal to an emotion, when using this not only do the authors include facts on the topic, but it also gets their audience to care more about why this epidemic needs to be put to an end. Another example of the authors incorporating pathos is when they insert a quote from Robert Anderson which says, “it would be the first consecutive life expectancy decline since World War 1 and the Spanish flu…in 1918” ( Katz and Goodnough). Basically saying that life expectancy will get worse until there is something done about it. This quote adds to the seriousness and urgency of the situation. It helps the authors get across to their audience that something needs to happen before more people die and that people now are dying at a younger age than previously before.

    John Katz and Abby Goodnough did an excellent job in informing their audience of the Fentanyl epidemic. They helped their audience to see how this epidemic is mainly a problem among Black Americans, and getting them to see that this problem will only get worse until something is done to change the pattern. The techniques that they used were beneficial to their article and their purpose for writing it. The technique of Ethos added credibility to their article when they used quotes from people educated on their specific topic. They used logos or facts and statistics to make their claim believable and to show how the Fentanyl drug is a rising problem among Black Americans. And finally they appealed to the audiences’ emotion or Pathos to call them to action so that this epidemic can be put to an end once and for all. All of these techniques adds to the article in a positive and productive way.

    Works Cited

    1. Katz, Josh, and Abby Goodnough. “The Opioid Crisis Is Getting Worse, Particularly for Black Americans.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Dec. 2017,

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    African Americans and Opioids. (2022, Dec 01). Retrieved from

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