In the past two decades, the devastation associated with opioid addiction has escaped the relative confines of the inner city and extended to suburban and rural America. Due in large part to the proliferation of prescription pain relievers, rates of opioid abuse, addiction, overdose and related deaths have increased dramatically. This has affected families and communities that once felt immune to this crisis.
On Aug. 1, an analysis of health care claims for treatment of opioid dependence showed a 3,000 percent increase from 2007 to 2014.
The knowledge that many are afflicted or affected has helped people understand the powerful psychological and physiological grip of addiction. As a result, stigma has decreased.
What was once relegated to the back burner of public concern has become a top public health priority.
We addiction experts also have gained better understanding of the illness, and we see reasons for hope.