There are time-tested and newer interventions that have a track record of success. All of them are within the power of local officials and policymakers.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is — justifiably — still grabbing headlines, another public health crisis has continued to rage. More than 100,000 people died from a drug overdose in the U.S. in 2021, with the overwhelming majority of those deaths involving opioids. That’s up 15 percent over 2020, and a more than fivefold increase since the turn of the millennium.
The surge is particularly bad in America’s cities. For some years, the drug crisis seemed most acute among rural and small-town Americans, particularly the white, middle-aged residents of former industrial areas profiled in books like Hillbilly Elegy. But due largely to the adulteration of the drug supply with potent new synthetic opioids, the crisis is now everywhere. Between 2000 and 2010, overdose deaths rose by nearly 200 percent in rural areas, compared to about 40 percent in big cities; between 2010 and 2020, the pattern reversed, with a 70 percent increase in rural areas and a more than 150 percent increase in big cities.
Photo by itakdalee/iStock