The Opioid Crisis Isn't White

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Last April, The Baltimore Sun ran an op-ed essay by a woman in mourning. Her sister, a “middle-class suburban mom,” had become addicted to alcohol and opioids and died. Two years earlier, The Wall Street Journal published the names and photographs of some of the 300,000 Americans who had died of opioid overdoses since the 1990s. Smiling faces stared back at the reader with eyes full of promise. The families of the dead described how their once-vibrant loved ones had fallen into opioid use, how an injury or divorce led to medication, which then spiraled into addiction. In 2016, the NPR podcast “Embedded” told the heartbreaking story of a nurse with three children who hurt her back at work and was soon hooked on opioids. 

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