The terrible, terrible losses associated with the opioid epidemic are almost too horrifying to describe. Statistics alone cannot explain its scope, but it is important to note that, last year alone, over 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses across the country. Strikingly, the increase in overdose numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic took place in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia. See Bobby Mukkamala, 2022 a critical year to address worsening drug-overdose crisis, American Medical Association (Jan. 11, 2022).
The opioid epidemic, of course, did not begin with the COVID-19 pandemic. As far back as August 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions formed an Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit in the US Department of Justice, with the stated purpose of combatting “the devastating opioid crisis that is ravaging families and communities across America.” Yet the number of deaths have continued to rise since then, crushing families and friends.