In 2017, life expectancy in the United States went down.
Let me repeat that: Nearly two decades into the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, life expectancy went down.
And it was largely driven by the opioid epidemic.
Emergency room visits for opioid overdoses have skyrocketed. Children have lost their parents. Parents have lost their children. And only a small percentage of those suffering ever receive the treatment they need.
It’s a crisis. A daily emergency — with severe consequences for communities of color, made worse by the already-wide racial gaps in who gets decent health care and who doesn’t.
In 2017, the number of opioid-related deaths in Baltimore was almost as high as West Virginia, the state with the highest death rate in the country — with most death occurring in the black community.
This isn’t the first time we’ve faced a huge public health crisis — and when we look at our history, we see a path to end the opioid epidemic.