The city has become the U.S. overdose capital, and older Black men are dying at higher rates than anyone else.

Over the past six years, Baltimore has endured one of America’s deadliest drug epidemics. Fatal overdoses have fallen surprisingly hard on one group: Black men currently in their mid-50s to early 70s.

While just 7 percent of the city’s population, they account for nearly 30 percent of drug fatalities — a death rate 20 times that of the rest of the country.

An examination by The New York Times and The Baltimore Banner — drawing on previously undisclosed autopsy records, more than 100 interviews and a novel data analysis — revealed the impact on these men, who make up part of a little-recognized lost generation.

More than 4,000 have been killed since 1993 amid waves of drugs: first heroin and crack cocaine, then prescription opioids and now fentanyl — the deadliest drug threat America has ever seen.

Though startling numbers of older white men and Black women died as well, this group’s fatal overdoses have elevated Baltimore’s rate far above other cities’.

A generation devastated by drugs

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

By Molly Cook Escobar

Drug deaths among Baltimore’s Black men

Note: Chart shows two-year rolling averages. Drug overdoses for those under 15 years of age and older than 90 are not shown.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

By Molly Cook Escobar, Scott Reinhard and Nick Thieme