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The Editors

Stepping Up the Fight Against Opioid Addiction

As the death rate rises, states and the federal government must try every sound strategy to end overuse and provide treatment.
An epidemic moves to the street.

An epidemic moves to the street.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

America’s opioid crisis keeps getting worse. More than 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2015, the highest on record, and millions still abuse the drugs.

Efforts to control the epidemic abound, such as new national prescribing guidelines for doctors, more state drug courts and increased access to addiction treatment. But opioids are extraordinarily addictive, and the pattern of abuse is shifting: Many people who became hooked on prescription opioids go on to use heroin, or worse, illicit fentanyl, which is many times as potent. Fentanyl overdose, which can occur almost instantaneously when the drug is taken, is mainly what’s driving the death rate skyward.