As I write this editorial note in the winter of 2016, the opioid epidemic is very much in the news. PBS's Frontline recently aired a one-hour special devoted to the topic. It is undeniably true that the United States has a problem afoot: drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the nation. The occurrence of drug overdose has increased fourfold since 2009, and opioid addiction is the driving force behind this dramatic increase (ASAM 2016). But why so much attention to this drug epidemic? Surely substance addiction has long been a problem in the United States. Is this any different from the past scares? What many Americans already realize and what makes this drug epidemic different from those of the past is that opioid addiction is largely fueled by licit, not illicit, drugs. While just over half a...

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