By RAND. Sixty-seven people will die today in America because of heroin or narcotic painkillers, if recent overdose statistics are any guide.
Heroin alone killed more than 8,000 people in 2013, a death rate nearly triple what it was just three years earlier. Its opioid cousins, prescription painkillers, killed 16,000 more.
A series of recent RAND reports has offered strategies to save those lives and thousands more around the world. One explored ways to combat the flourishing poppy fields in Afghanistan that supply 90 percent of the world’s illicit opium. Another took a close look at a treatment for addicts meant to ease their relentless demand for the drug.
The timing of these reports was grimly appropriate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now considers opioid drug abuse to be a full-fledged epidemic.
“We’re in crisis. We have to do something,” said Michael DeLeon, a New Jersey filmmaker and former addict who has committed himself to documenting the street-level toll of heroin and painkiller abuse.