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The looming threat of opioids

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Now fears are growing that this crisis could be replicated in the UK

We’re wasting our time if we don’t get tough with drug dealers, and that toughness includes the death penalty,’ said the President of the USA, with typical bluster in a speech in late March.

He added: ‘The ultimate penalty has to be the death penalty. Maybe our country is not ready for that, it’s possible, it’s possible.’

Mr Trump was not positing a solution to a boom in crack cocaine such as the one observed in the 1980s, or rattling his sabre at the narcos of central America. In fact, he was referring to an epidemic of what one may find in any medical practice around the world. But which has been described by some as the greatest public health crisis since the AIDS epidemic in 1980s: The opioid crisis.

It is thought that more than 115 Americans die a day after overdosing on opioids, while The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total ‘economic burden’ of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year.

Opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 42,249 deaths in 2016, and opioid overdose deaths were five times higher in 2016 than in 1999. Fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and many times that of heroin.

Now, fears are growing that this crisis could be replicated
in the UK.


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