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Google’s Low-Tech Plan to Solve the Opioid Crisis

A rehab clinic in Ohio meant to highlight the company’s futuristic approach to medicine has instead shown the value of old-school care.

Corrected
The OneFifteen Crisis Inpatient Residential Treatment Center in Dayton. 

The OneFifteen Crisis Inpatient Residential Treatment Center in Dayton. 

Photographer: Stacy Kranitz for Bloomberg Businessweek

Christopher Boggs started smoking pot in his teens, moved on to cocaine, and finally settled on opioids, which allowed him to evade the drug testing program at the car factory where he worked. He sounds like a seasoned pharmacist as he ticks off the drug regimen he built up. “Any kind of opioid you could get. Oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, fentanyl patches—just everything,” he recalls. “It was real cheap and readily available.”

Boggs, who’s in his mid-40s, has spent his entire life in Dayton, a city whose epidemic of overdoses turned it into the face of the US’s opioid crisis. He eventually went through rehab and was living clean early in 2020. When Covid-19 swept in, he lost his job and found himself caring for an ailing relative. “I don’t know,” he says, rubbing a hand over his shaved head. “I relapsed again.”