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Opioid Abuse in America
It’s estimated that more than 59,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2016—the largest annual jump ever recorded. Shockingly, overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50, with public health officials saying this is the worst drug crisis in the country’s history. How did the nation get here? Early reports show that over two million Americans are dependent on opioids and 95 million more used prescription painkillers, including Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin, and fentanyl, in the past year. While some states have set stricter penalties on the distribution of opioids, there are still doctors willing to overprescribe these medications on the basis that they help people in pain. At the same time, counties and states across the US have filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, attempting to hold Big Pharma accountable for the ongoing public health crisis. While city legislatures remain gridlocked on the efficacy of prevention programs and debate how to save lives, the epidemic only seems to be worsening. How the government—and society as a whole—responds will likely define a generation of Americans.
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