This Is What Makes The Opioid Epidemic Different From Other Health Crises

The opioid crisis is different from other public-health crises in one important way: Unlike the epidemic of cocaine use that ravaged low-income communities in the 1980s, the epidemic of opioid abuse is a symptom of forces that “have reshape the economy” in the past decade, as explains.

“That makes the current crisis different from previous drug epidemics involving methamphetamines or crack cocaine. And it’s why some health experts say that cities and states need to reframe the whole way they think about the opioid outbreak.


It’s not simply about the rise of a new class of addictive drugs that now take the lives of some 91 Americans every day. The opioid crisis is a jobs crisis; it’s an affordable housing crisis. The same forces that have reshaped the economy over the past decade have left a void that’s been filled, in many places, by opioids.

Indeed, the opioid crisis has continued to worsen, despite – and in one important way, because of – the federal government’s efforts to curb the rising death toll. According to preliminary data, more than 60,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017, an-all time high, and a 50% increase since 2011. A federal crackdown on addictive painkillers, meant to “solve” prescription-painkiller abuse, only made the problem worse by forcing addicts to switch to heroin, a cheaper and more powerful alternative.

The migration of users toward heroin coincided with the introduction of powerful opioid analogues like fentanyl and carfentanil into the American heroin supply, causing the number of overdose deaths to skyrocket.

The rash of deaths has forced some of the hardest-hit US states to consider tactics that would’ve been politically unfeasible a year or two ago. Needle exchanges, once found in only a handful of cities like New York, have proliferated, with more than 198 now operating across the country.

“Other leaders are also exploring approaches that seemed politically unthinkable just a short time ago, including safe injection sites, where addicts can shoot up heroin under the supervision of a health-care professional and without fear of being arrested. The idea is to prevent people from overdosing while also offering them information about treatment. Vancouver, British Columbia, established a site in 2003 and has prevented nearly 5,000 overdoses since then, according to the clinic’s website. For years, the notion of setting up a sanctioned safe injection facility in the U.S. was a nonstarter. But now, Seattle lawmakers have approved a site that they hope to start building on soon. The idea is also being considered by leaders in Boston and San Francisco, where Mayor Ed Lee only recently dropped his opposition to them. “I had to kind of force myself to be open to the idea, he told a reporter in January, ‘because it doesn’t come as a natural thing.’”

This local pattern of liberalization in the public approach to treating opioid dependency is at odds with a more conservative approach favored by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And it’s causing local leaders to reconsider whether methods like needle exchanges and safe injection sites, which have proven to lower the incidence of opioid overdoses, are worth pursuing.

“The future of such facilities, however, could be shaped by the federal government. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hasn’t commented on safe injection clinics specifically, but he has signaled a tough-on-drugs approach that would presumably not include such facilities. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner, recently said that Sessions’ stance has given her pause on whether a safe injection site is even worth pursuing. She’s asked the federal government how it would respond if the city were to establish safe injection sites, but said she hasn’t heard back. “I’m not one to shy away from a fight,” she said, “but we need further guidance from the feds if we’re going to proceed with this.”

To try and reduce the rising number of overdoses, states have begun distributing naloxone to first responders and police. The drug, which typically comes in the form of a nasal spray or intramuscular injection, reverses the effects of opioid overdose, and has been credited with saving thousands of lives. But critics say the policy is a band-aid that won’t help reduce the number of addicts.  

Naloxone can reverse overdoses in an emergency, but it doesn’t reduce addiction rates. Prescription databases prevent people from doctor-shopping for more pills, but those users often just start buying their drugs illegally. Limiting the supply of prescription opioids like Oxycontin has only led to a surge in fentanyl, an opioid that’s 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.”

Ultimately, working to alleviate the opioid crisis by any means necessary should be a top priority for the Trump administration, considering that many of the counties with the highest number of deaths from despair – defined as suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol poisoning – went for Trump in the election.

“The opioid crisis is a jobs crisis; it’s an affordable housing crisis. The same forces that have reshaped the economy over the past decade have left a void that’s been filled, in many places, by opioids. A University of Pennsylvania study after last November’s election found that President Trump had overperformed in counties with the highest rates of “deaths of despair,” which include suicide, drug overdose and alcohol poisoning. It supports the fact that there are many Americans who feel left behind by the changing economy, and who fundamentally don’t believe the current political and policy framework is helping them.”

The resistance of Pence, Sessions and others within the Trump administration is an obvious obstacle to widespread adoption of “harm reduction” treatment methods. But as time passes, and the death toll from opioids continues to climb, ideas that once seemed radical might become more mainstream. The only question is how many more will die in the meantime?


GUS100CORRINA VWAndy Sun, 08/13/2017 - 16:13 Permalink

This Is What Makes The Opioid Epidemic Different From Other Health CrisesMy response: As more and more information surfaces about the opioid epidemic, why is it that President TRUMP was the first president in decades to recognize this problem?Where in the HELL was OBAMA at as this crisis was getting out of control? Oh, I forgot, he was on the GOLF COURSE working on his chipping game and did not give a CRAP about the people he was elected to serve!!!!Probably the same thing could be said about BUSH as well.

In reply to by VWAndy

El Vaquero GUS100CORRINA Sun, 08/13/2017 - 16:18 Permalink


10,000 times more potent than morphine.  No shit.  Which leads to:

To try and reduce the rising number of overdoses, states have begun distributing naloxone to first responders and police.

It's not just the addicts that are ODing on that stuff.  First responders are at risk from accidental exposure when they come onto a scene, because the newer stuff is so potent.  That's the problem with the War on Drugs.  People look for more and more compact forms to avoid detection when smuggling products that people are going to try to get despite the prohibition.  

In reply to by GUS100CORRINA

The Cooler King (not verified) El Vaquero Sun, 08/13/2017 - 16:34 Permalink

"What Makes The Opioid Epidemic Different From Other Health Crises" A: Troops in Afghanistan (until the poppy crops on the Bush Plantations in Argentina become viable, &/or how that has an effect on the Booz Allen bottom line) Next Question? Make sure when you downvote me here, that you light a candle on the Pepe Escobar & Martin Armstrong altars like Pastor Jim in Minnesota is doing now.

In reply to by El Vaquero

Manthong Chupacabra-322 Sun, 08/13/2017 - 17:11 Permalink

  agree about how to handle the last 24 years of presidential abuse with predudice....but even before that....   This is not hard…. Brownies..... Some  folks did something like that back in the day with grass…. …but better yet… hash.  Carfentinal brownies now???  whoa.... ..and the brewed beverages….. Gotta go now ,,, I need some Black Sabbath audio therapy. 

In reply to by Chupacabra-322

two hoots Stuck on Zero Sun, 08/13/2017 - 18:51 Permalink

Key is "advanced", naturally advanced, social evolution advanced, not failed.  We had the false idea of some grand heterogeneous society made in his image.  But we are waking up as no society has been where we are today, never and it is not a pretty thing.  We know the changes and events that are blamed and likely so but it is not fixable in any agreeable way.   The US developed, not by plan,  to many needy people to fast from modern techonogical evolution.   Our budgets are strained and we are not going to sacrifice the welfare of the nation on what most consider our weakest links or failed links, no matter the fault.   Eyes on the future not dragging a heavy chain of burdens forward.  The  US cannot compete and maintian any influence if it spends its last borrowed dime on the heavy chain.    It is a consolidation of eveything wrong at the wrong time, aging boomers, unsustainable national debt and continued borrowing, Congressial disfunction, lack of need for jobs, automation, apathy, wealth protection etc.  which all leads to the type of events over the weekend and it's going to get worse. First it's a city, county, state issue before the fed steps in.  Why is everything immediately escalated to Fed level?  Are state and local govenments impotent?  Have states capitualted on all responsibilities? 

In reply to by Stuck on Zero

Luc X. Ifer Chupacabra-322 Sun, 08/13/2017 - 17:15 Permalink

Serfs are wondering why the war against drugs is not won and the situation worsens by the day, it is because it is by design, stupid. The (useless, now expired due to automation) 99% cattle must be put down somehow and nobody should be available to take in the blame for it, that's the way the system of the neofeudal aristocrat lords works if you didn't got it till today - get rolling what they want and need without getting the blame for it.

In reply to by Chupacabra-322

Paul E. Math Luc X. Ifer Sun, 08/13/2017 - 19:41 Permalink

Mentally healthy people with a supportive social structure don't become drug addicts.But our civilization has evolved to make everyone feel insecure and inadquate.  Drugs are one of the few things that can temporarily relieve the emotional pain that many people experience today.The solution to the opioid crisis is a massive cultural shift away from materialism and consumerism - large, monied interests will not allow this shift to take place without a fight.

In reply to by Luc X. Ifer

Oldwood Ima anal sphincter Sun, 08/13/2017 - 18:22 Permalink

The most important thing is to recognize it's just not our fault. It's a beautiful thing, this liberated progressive world in which we live. We are not responsible for anything we do, not what we buy, what we eat, what we spend and most definitely NOT what we shoot, smoke or snort.....God knows that ain't our fault. And for sure we need to blame anti-drug laws for this rampant drug epidemic.....they should have known outlawing it would DRIVE people to consume massive amounts of brain altering chemicals.Don't get me wrong, I believe that most drug laws are stupid, but somehow we can morph this stupidity into avoiding the notion that it is the people taking these drugs who are responsible for their circumstances and that the people dealing and importing this are doing it for power and profit...JUST LIKE so many of our corrupt leaders and corporate masters. So why are we effectively defending these fucks? Can we not condemn them for THEIR actions the same as we do so many others?We spend so much time blaming those who manipulate us, seemingly ignoring that this has been the human condition forever. IF we want to change things we must change ourselves and actually THINK, instead of acting like sheep while complaining of being treated like sheep. Until we are forcibly strapped to a chair and addicted to drugs, WE HAVE A CHOICE, and until the rules of survival on this planet change, we will all suffer the consequences of choosing poorly.

In reply to by Ima anal sphincter

not dead yet Oldwood Sun, 08/13/2017 - 21:41 Permalink

Conspiracy replacing lack of personal accountability by those who see conspiracy in everything. History has shown when living gets easy boredom sets in and humans look for things to alleviate that boredom. Years ago the poor starved or were thrown in the streets to die. Now we have shelters for the flotsam and government subsidized housing for the rest. Food pantries, EBT cards, and the modern equivilent of soup kitchens. No more scratching to stay alive but too much time on idle hands, especially unemployed college kids with worthless degrees and lack of ambition still living at home. Plus things that one used to experience in the latter years of high school or college, like booze and sex, are now experienced at a much younger age. Get bored with that same old same old and for most it's natural to look for new exciting stuff. Add to that kids maturing at a much later age we have a recipe that has led us to the current epidemic. It's bullshit that young people think they are indestructible. Only the mentally ill think that. The real answer is the young, and many older people, never think of the consequences. Damn the torpedoes full speed ahead, especially when your friends are doing it. They either end up dead or turn into addicts.Most of our job crisis are those who refuse to work or will only work in jobs that require minimum effort for maximum with bosses that kiss their ass instead of making them work. A supposed housing crisis where people don't have money because they spent it on booze and drugs. The booze companies and bars are doing just fine, the younger crowd big on craft beer which is a growth market, and while drug busts bring in huge quantities the feds claim it's only 5 to 10% of what's entering the market. We glorify the use of drugs and especially alcohol and rank colleges by their parties. Lots of coverage on TV of the younger set doing the debauchery and drunkeness of spring break leaving viewers with the impression they are missing out on something wondrous. Wonder how much of the student loans went for booze and drugs.The drug problem would have never grown to this extent without those in power or have connections, whether local or nationally, running things behind the scenes. Most do it for the profit while others for more sinister reasons. So it's no surprise we have our troops in Afghanistan guarding the poppies. The way American society is now the CIA or the cartels do not have to force people to use their product. Americans can't seem to get enough. 

In reply to by Oldwood

not dead yet not dead yet Sun, 08/13/2017 - 21:58 Permalink

It also doean't help that so many Americans are wimps and pussies. Every little disappointment, hard day at work, or trigger and they reach for something to either get high or put them into a drunken stupor. By medicating their woes they create even more which has them reaching for more mothers little helper or a bottle of Jack. Can't make the house payment because you spent it on booze head down to the liquor store and charge a case of your favorite, at 29%, to drown your sorrows. Charge another case because your depressed that you can't pay the credit card bill.

In reply to by not dead yet

Oldwood not dead yet Sun, 08/13/2017 - 22:56 Permalink

Our government instituted a "war on poverty" without ever recognizing that our greatest poverty was of spirit. What was supposed to be a war to end poverty has actually become a breeding ground for it, enabling the growth with direct funding to sustain its existence and growth, but more importantly normalizing it, excusing it and creating a protected space in society to hold it harmless from it's own destructive actions.....just as we have done with every other "deviant" act of self destruction. The ultimate pursuit of ME, be it through self pity, fringe sexual acts, drugs and alcohol, excessive eating, consumption and even extreme sports.People have become so vacant of meaning and purpose that they destroy themselves (and everything around them) in its pursuit. The notion of ME, of MY happiness, has blinded us to the fact that the one thing we are all so desperately trying to avoid...WORK, is the only thing that gives us the reward we seek. Not the money we earn, not even the luxury it might afford, but the sense of accomplishment and mastery that one discovers within themselves, not necessarily even the accolades we might receive. This is our burden....WE KNOW THIS. We can be lied to, telling us how smart and deserving we are (this is what our government tries to tell us daily) but we know when it is a lie, because our minds and hearts TELL US when we triumphed over our task.Instead we work to earn money instead of life and we spend that money on mostly hollow things that we think OTHERS value. Ultimately that is what our marketing does for us. It does not so much tell us what we want as much as convince us that what they are selling is what EVERYONE ELSE WANTS.This is what the media and progressives are deeply into. Marketing to build this false consensus, to make us believe we want that new Subaru, that everyone wants to be thin and everyone HATES TRUMP. They don't have to convince us of what they are selling nearly as much as convincing us that everyone else believes it.We rightly lament at the massive and destructive drug addictions, but we must recognize that that addiction is a symptom of something deeper, a contagious mental illness.We have seen the apocalyptic end of our world portrayed in hordes of zombies, mindless eaters roaming the planet seeking out the flesh of the living, of the productive brain. A seemingly unquenchable HUNGER to fill that void that can't be explained by simple biological need.This is our world NOW, the beginning. The contagion not being spread by the bite of the mouth but by the words from it. People so desperate to fill their "void" that their NEEDS drive them to destruction...of themselves and ultimately others. We see now that these eaters are enabled with an indoctrination of "entitlement" that tells them they "deserve" whatever it is that they NEED, and if others are perceived to have what they personally need... they are entitled to it....zombies. And their numbers are growing.We have been told for years that our lives were NOT worry about imports or illegals or H1b workers. Meanwhile we have coincidentally seen our personal, national, corporate and entitlement debts rising while our ability to pay declines. Shocking and a great surprise, right? Now they tell us that robotics and technology are even more of our "entitlement', that these tools will allow us to live so much better and cheaper, with even LESS need to worry about a job (just in case China decides to stop giving their shit away). A meaningless life of dependency on others. What could go wrong?Zombies, one and all.

In reply to by not dead yet

Serfs Up The Cooler King (not verified) Sun, 08/13/2017 - 16:44 Permalink

Exactly.This is the same as the other "health care crises" [sic] in that the CIA and State Dept. had a heavy hand in bringing the heroin to the world.  What, you think is was an accident that opium in Afgh. went from zero to records under US military protection and care?  What, you think it's an accident that the US government still fights weed while it fully sanctions Insys, et al., to market fentanyl while also funneling massive campaign dollars to the 98% sucessful re-election system?Wake, the, fuck, up, people.The US has become a death cult.  Money and Molach.  Worship one and you worship both.  It only gets darker from there once you dig a little.  /I have to go shower now.

In reply to by The Cooler King (not verified)

The Cooler King (not verified) Serfs Up Sun, 08/13/2017 - 18:03 Permalink

@Serf's Up The thing that's EVEN MORE SAD is that, even though what you say is exactly the TRUTH... Then, you can knock it down to so called 'EXPERTS' like Pepe Escobar, & Martin Armstrong, (who gladly, will sell articles to the NYT & HUFFPO, that include UNSC resolutions & Japanese 'white papers')... & in doing so, co-mingle 'half truths' with research that SOUNDS GOOD, but is no more viable than GLOBAL WARMING papers that are produced by scientists & engineers looking to keep their paycheck (based upon research grants) going so they can send their dumbass little next generation shitheads to the finest schools , & so their adulterous wife won't leave them and garnish their future wages by way of alimony. Then, what's WAY WORSE, is that the above phenomenon creates wannabe INTELLECTUALS (like Jim in MN), that actually GLORIFY those authors, because the authors managed to type something into the word cloud, that the Jim in Minn's can use on the Thursday night cocktail party to STAND ABOVE all the other pseudo intellectual bullshit artists as if they were trying to play LEAPFROG with the ponytailed dipshit in 'GOOD WILL HUNTING' that, as it turns out in real life... LIKES APPLES.

In reply to by Serfs Up

pitz El Vaquero Sun, 08/13/2017 - 16:35 Permalink

Yeah no kidding, its hard to imagine that people confronting this stuff probably are dreaming of the "good old days" when all they had to do was deal with the occasional bit of heroin, which wasn't particularly dangerous in comparison.  Now we have the real spectre of such substances being widely available and usable as chemical weapons not only for drug abuse, but also for malicious purposes. I wonder how many homicides are going un-detected these days because of this stuff, and the ease of which police can simply write victims off as being unwitting 'experimenters', rather than victims of malicious criminal acts?

In reply to by El Vaquero

geologyguy El Vaquero Sun, 08/13/2017 - 17:49 Permalink

It's much worse than that El Vaquero. I work in public health inspecting wells and Septic systems as a sanitarian in NC. Post 9/11 and more so during the Ebola scare, TPTB wanted us trained on N-95 respirators (face masks basically) to be able to better respond to catastrophic events. Now since we are fitted with that shit annually, so they Insist we each cruise around with doses of Narcan in our trucks ready to help out someone we come across who is overdosing.
I inspect shitters with an education in geology, yet they insist that I do this crap. It's outrageous, but they sign the paychecks so I'll comply. Hope I never have to do it.

In reply to by El Vaquero

PacOps El Vaquero Mon, 08/14/2017 - 06:12 Permalink

In a Hy-Vee in small town Iowa getting a Rx refilled. Big sign "naloxone available without prescription" ... Woah! What is this about? Anyone can buy it and staff will take it out to the parking lot and administer on the spot.Unintended consequence. People massivly ODing in the parking lot to see how high they can get. Their friend runs in for the nalox.What a mess.

In reply to by El Vaquero

Offthebeach PGR88 Sun, 08/13/2017 - 16:38 Permalink

The Chinese royals,  minions, agents, beurocracy were more than willing, for money, to sell out their nation.  I read 20 years ago Ron Chernows, The House Of Morgan, and even then I was struck by the similarities of todays Washington and America's "elite" compared with late 1800's China.

In reply to by PGR88

Chupacabra-322 kochevnik Sun, 08/13/2017 - 16:40 Permalink

@ kochevnik,

The Criminal Pure Evil Manufactured for Opioid crises is a direct result of the Pure Evil War Crimes Against Humanity Crimes Against The American People


To state the obvious; the CIA has deeply humiliated the American people in their attempt to tie the American people to be responsible for the CIA's crimes against humanity across the world.

The CIA appears to be the world's greatest threat to peace and prosperity. It is the penultimate terrorist organization, being the direct or indirect creator of all other terrorist organizations. It also appears to be the world's penultimate illegal drug smuggler and pusher making all other illegal drug trading possible and instigating the horrors of addiction and suffering around the world.

If I believed that the CIA was working in any way on behalf of the US government and the American people then it would be sad and shameful indeed. However, it is my belief that the CIA instead was captured long ago, as was the secret military operations and now works for a hidden power that wants to dominate or failing that, destroy humanity.

It's those Select Highly Compartmentalized Criminal Pure Evil Rogue Elements at the Deep State Top that have had control since the JFK Execution that have entrenched themselves for decades & refuse to relinquish Control.

The Agency is Cancer. There should be no question about the CIA's future in the US.

Dissolved & dishonored. Its members locked away or punished for Treason. Their reputation is so bad and has been for so long, that the fact that you joined them should be enough to justify arrest and Execution for Treason, Crimes Against Humanity & Crimes Against The American People.

And yet, there is something positive in this. By experiencing and knowing evil, we can choose the path of light or choose to ignore both dark amd light. It is a choice we all must make if we intend to evolve from being animals ruled by this world and its illusions.

In reply to by kochevnik

Grandad Grumps Sun, 08/13/2017 - 16:12 Permalink

IMO, what makes this epidemic different is that it is no longer covertly sponsored by the CIA. It is overtly sponsored by the entire US government, the insurance complex, the AMA, physicians and pharma companies. The mainstream criminals got tired of covert competition limiting their despair induced profits. Heck, the military is even guarding the poppy fields.

Last of the Mi… Sun, 08/13/2017 - 16:10 Permalink

Repealing ObamaScare and opening up markets to free and open competition forcing insurance and pharma industries to compete rather than do business behind closed doors in congressional offices would do a lot more to alleviate the opioid crisis than 500 billion or whatever amount they're currently talking about going towards "opioid addiction" a.k.a. suboxone prescriptions for all. Anyone who has been in the business for decades understands the scam that is treatment with absolutely no thought or related understanding of personal and societal responsibility.