Despite common perceptions, overall use of most non-prescription drugs has declined, and yet deaths from opioid overdoses have risen, according to statistics cited by Sociology Professor Susan Sered in her blog post¬†“The Opioid Epidemic? Just the Facts, Please.”

And while it’s appropriate to treat those who want to stop using these drugs, investigating and addressing the underlying causes of drug addiction is essential.

“If we really are in the midst of an opioid epidemic then it is foolishly short-sighted for us to focus our efforts on individual rather than public measures. To be clear, I am not suggesting that drug users who wish to stop using should not receive appropriate, evidence-based support and treatment. I am, however, pointing out that giving drug abusers the equivalent of rest, water and Tylenol will not protect them — or anyone else — from the stagnant pools of sexism, poverty and hopelessness.”

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