The opioid epidemic ranks as one of the most serious and tragic public health crises in US history. The cost in human lives, health care, and lost work productivity is staggering. While there are signs that the opioid epidemic may have begun to level off, tens of thousands of opioid deaths continue to occur every year.

The roots of the United States' opioid epidemic are generally well known. Beginning in the 1990s, physicians, pressured by aggressive and deceptive marketing by pharmaceutical companies, began prescribing opioids widely to reduce the suffering of acute and chronic pain, which had long been seen as neglected. Misuse of opioids and drug addiction (despite promises from drug companies that the risk of abuse was low) increased dramatically. In subsequent waves of the crisis, many opioid users began turning to illicit opioids including heroin and synthetic drugs like...

You do not currently have access to this content.