It’s time to get real about the opioid epidemic

In just the last seven days, The New York Times has published 16 stories on various aspects of the opioid epidemic from legal challenges and demographic data, to devastating profiles of families and communities trying to cope with this crisis.

As a treatment provider, Odyssey House grapples with this human disaster every day. We urgently treat young opioid users with medication and behavioral therapy hoping to instill in them a sense of hope and skills to avoid relapse. They are the lucky ones because they made it into treatment, and if they complete an evidence-based program, they have a very good chance of surviving.

Nicholas Kristof’s column: “Opioids, a Mass Killer We’re Meeting with a Shrug” (Op-Ed, June 22), stands out among all this reporting as a clarion call for an epidemic that has the ignominious distinction of being both the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 and a disease where only 10 percent of sufferers get treatment.

An estimated 65,000 Americans died last year from drug overdoses. How many more will die this year before we get real and face the disaster that is unfolding in front of our eyes?