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Drug Abuse Need Not Be a Death Sentence

Nicholas Konrad/The New York Times

In today’s New York Times, Dr. Peter Provet, Odyssey House President & CEO, responds to a recent article about tackling the opioid epidemic. 

To the Editor:

Re “New Hope for an Epidemic,” by Jeneen Interlandi (Opinion essay, Aug. 9):

The impact of aggressively selling a potentially deadly prescription narcotic, and the need for investment in evidence-based treatment programs proven to save lives, are decades-long challenges that have failed to get the attention they deserve.

Even now, as $26 billion of opioid settlement dollars are expected to be distributed to states hard hit by the epidemic, prevention, treatment, and recovery programs are still not guaranteed an adequate share from the payout.

That the Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 620,000 Americans is a shocking number. But so, too, is 93,000, the number of Americans who died from drug-related causes in 2020 alone. Just as we mobilized our country’s impressive infrastructure of medical, scientific, political, and economic resources against a highly contagious and deadly virus, we must do the same with drug addiction.

Let’s use this rare moment of hopeful news on funding to repair some of the tragic damage caused by opioid abuse and invest in research and professional training that will help build a treatment and recovery system that reassures every American family that drug abuse need not be a potential death sentence for their children.

Peter Provet
New York
The writer is the president of Odyssey House.

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