The United States opioid epidemic: not a temporary state of emergency, but a lasting and sweeping crisis propelled by the overuse, misuse, and abuse of prescription opioids. Two decades in the making, the epidemic is fast-evolving and highly fluid – the use of heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and other illicit substances (atop prescription drugs) increasingly fuel addiction, overdoses, and death. Each emerging drug serves as a catalyst to adjust approaches to better handle the scope of the problem.
The grips of addiction reach far beyond clinical treatment. The epidemic exploits the preexisting weakness and vulnerability of society, feeding on poverty, apathy, isolation, declining local economies, and weak governance. The harmful nature of this crisis triggers an overwhelming need for improved national attention and cooperation.
Follow the link in our bio to explore five critical elements of the growing crisis. (Photo Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)