From 1999–2018, the Opioid Epidemic killed almost 450,000 Americans. Drug overdose deaths topped 67,000 in 2018, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Two out of three drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid. US officials learned of the growing health crisis beginning in 2006 when top US scientists, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health tried to warn health officials and the public of the imminent health crisis and requested urgent action. But no action, not until 2015. In the nearly 10 years after the initial findings, over 454,700 died from an opioid-related overdose. Finally, President Obama pushed Congress for legislation to address the opioid epidemic. The following year, the landmark report Facing Addiction in America, The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and The Surgeon General’s Spotlight on Opioids were released.

Why did it take so long for anyone to address the opioid health crisis? Based solely on deaths, the opioid epidemic makes the coronavirus pandemic look meager. Did stigma prevent individuals, communities, society, and the government from taking quick decisive action to prevent overdose deaths?
CLICK here to read more about how stigma in healthcare deters people from getting treatment.