Opioid Crisis

Can recent reforms curb the epidemic?


Overdoses of opioid drugs, including powerful prescription painkillers and heroin, have killed almost 250,000 Americans since 2000, leading many experts to compare the crisis to the HIV and AIDS epidemics. Opioid addiction, once largely an urban minority affliction, has spread to every corner of the United States, hitting young adults and white people especially hard. One study has found that more adults use prescription painkillers than cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and cigars combined. As opioid abuse grows, propelled in part by a flood of cheap heroin from Mexico, alarmed authorities are trying to figure out how to fight back. In July, President Obama signed a bill encouraging the expansion of treatment programs and the development of alternatives to opioid painkillers. But many experts are divided over ...

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