"The death toll from opioid overdoses over the past 10 years has triggered a national public health emergency and shocked addiction experts. The “war on drugs” rhetoric of the last 50 years finally ended amid all those deaths, which brought the realization that we can’t arrest away the disease of drug addiction, a change that noticeably came with a drug epidemic ravaging white, rural America.
Ten years ago people did not recognize substance use disorders as a disease,” said drug policy expert Beth Connolly of the Pew Charitable Trusts, who studies public opinion about drug abuse. “A lot of people really thought of it as a moral failure.”
That shifted after the opioid epidemic. More than 85% of Americans in urban, suburban, or rural counties see drug addiction as a serious problem in their community, according to a 2018 Pew survey."