Earlier this month the commission tasked with combating America’s opioid crisis recommended that the president declare a national state of emergency related to this crisis. Over the last few years, the opioid problem in the United States has grown exponentially worse, and the number of annual drug-related deaths has officially surpassed the number of deaths claimed by the H.I.V. epidemic at its highest point.
To help generate more widespread understanding of this epidemic, its history, and the steps being taken to combat it, The New York Times has recently published an article that answers several foundational questions concerning America’s leading cause of death for those under the age of 50. The article usefully breaks down the differences between opioids and opiates, illustrates the areas of the country in which the crisis is at its worst, and helps explain why the problem has grown so much in recent years. Aside from answering the basic questions surrounding the opioid epidemic, the article goes on to explore the complexities of proposed remedies to the solution, including the pros and cons of a plan that focuses on prevention versus one that targets treatment.