Opioid Lifestyle Fentanyl

This Was The Decade Drug Overdoses Killed Nearly Half A Million Americans

Prince. Tom Petty. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Men and women, young and old, rich and poor. Maybe someone you knew or loved.

All gone, among the 467,000 drug overdose deaths in the US counted so far this decade, with another 67,000 more that will likely be added to that staggering total when this year ends. The epidemic has overtaken both car crashes and gun violence as leading causes of deaths nationwide, and it now causes far more deaths every year than AIDS did at its peak. US drug overdose deaths in this decade exceed the number of battle deaths the country suffered in World War I and World War II combined. And they played a pivotal role in the politics that made Donald Trump president.

“It was also the decade we finally started treating drug addiction like a disease, spurred by an overdose epidemic that ravaged white, rural America.”

The death toll from opioid overdoses over the past 10 years has triggered a national public health emergency and shocked addiction experts. The “war on drugs” rhetoric of the last 50 years finally ended amid all those deaths, which brought the realization that we can’t arrest away the disease of drug addiction, a change that noticeably came with a drug epidemic ravaging white, rural America.

“No one predicted the ferocity of the opioid epidemic,” American Society of Addiction Medicine President Paul Earley told BuzzFeed News.

As the death toll mounted, the epidemic shifted from painkillers to illegal drugs — first to heroin and then to synthetic fentanyl. The drastic shift pushed a relatively new approach called “harm reduction” to center stage, with the aim of limiting overdose deaths by meeting people “where they’re at,” and cutting down the ills of drug use rather than eliminating drug use itself.

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