In 2015, 52,000 Americans died of overdoses, four times the gun homicide rate and 50 per cent more than died in car accidents. In Rhode Island, 2 per cent of the population (20,000 people) are estimated by one epidemiologist to be opioid addicts. Full Article
To put the current epidemic of deaths into perspective, the Nixon White House panicked when heroin-addicted soldiers back from Vietnam brought the overdose death rate to 1.5 per 100,000 in 1973-1975. The crack epidemic of the mid to late 1980s reached a death rate of 2 per 100,000 and George H. W. Bush declared war on drugs. The current opioid death rate is 10.3 per 100,000 without the fentanyl statistics of 2016 counted yet. In New Hampshire the rate is 30 per 100,000 and in West Virginia it is over 40 per 100,000. This is a large reason why the life expectancy of middle-aged white people is falling. Why Bill Clinton said during last year’s campaign that poor white people were dying of “a broken heart” and why heroin is “a symbol of both working-class depravity and ruling-class neglect—an explosive combination in today’s political climate”.
It was not wrong for President Trump to describe the drug epidemic in his inaugural address as “carnage”. For drug companies opioids were lucrative opportunities.