EDITORIAL: Opioids are the public-health crisis of the modern era

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Every decade produces a new drug to terrorize the mean streets, the family hearth and especially threatens the young. Heroin was the scourge of the ‘70s. Cocaine scourged the ‘80s and crack was the nightmare of the ‘90s, hitting hardest those trying to survive on the margins and who would mortgage the future for a brief escape from misery. To be sure, these drugs have been with man for centuries, but they have returned to modern times with a vengeance.

Now the focus is on opioids, a class of drugs that are derivatives of heroin, among other drugs. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, as are other familiar painkillers like OxyContin, hydrocodone, morphine and others. In proper dosages these can be wonderful painkillers, binding to receptor cells in the brain and throughout the body, but in addition to relieving pain they produce a euphoria that is quickly addictive. “The opioid


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