News Headlines Article

Rehabbing Our Ideas About Addiction
Op-Ed: The Wall Street Journal

 In 1980, our roads were seven times deadlier than our drugs. But in 2008, drug overdoses surpassed car crashes to become the No. 1 cause of accidental death in the U.S., killing almost 50,000 Americans in 2014, the latest year on record. This epidemic is due almost entirely to the alarming rise of one class of drugs: Opioids, which include prescription painkillers and heroin, killed nearly 30,000 Americans in 2014, up from just under 10,000 in 2001. Once considered a relic of the 1970s, heroin in particular has seen a peculiar and deadly resurgence, as more patients become dependent on prescription opioid painkillers and switch to heroin when their prescriptions run out. Between 2010 and 2014, heroin overdoses tripled.

Major steps have been taken to address this epidemic. In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines for prescribing opioids, discouraging prescriptions that last longer than a week. Days later, the FDA put stronger warning labels on the class of drugs, pointing to the serious risks of “misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death.”