With America’s deadly drug crisis looming large for years to come, public health officials say charting a path to nationwide recovery requires a multipronged approach, from treating those already addicted to tackling the epidemic’s root causes.
Around 2 million Americans are addicted to opioids, and more than 350,000 others have died of opioid-involved overdoses during the last two decades. Some became hooked via widely available prescription painkillers like OxyContin, which emerged in the 1990s, while heroin and illicit fentanyl have driven the mounting crisis in recent years.
Understanding how the current crisis developed is key to measuring which interventions are working to curb addiction and which efforts are falling flat. It also can help the country prepare for the inevitable next stage in its ever-evolving pattern of substance abuse.
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