The opioid epidemic is a fairly recent phenomena, almost exclusively centred in the US and Canada. Opioids became widely prescribed in the US in the nineties to treat chronic pain – now there’s a crisis affecting North America young, notably with lower education and from poorer areas. Pharmaceutical grade opioids have given way to criminal supply chains, largely from Mexico – poor quality and dependence have quickly lead to drug overdose being the largest cause of death in the under fifty age group.
It’s quite significant that the Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, has singled out opioid abuse as a primary reason for the decline in labor participation. Yellen is expected to be replaced by President Trump who does not like her outspoken style, even if her arguments are supported by solid evidence. We should remember that Trump’s Far Right support comes from lower educated whites, often down on their luck, and who match the demographic profile of opioid abusers. Finally, of course, RT, the Russian news service, is pointing the finger at the underside of North American society, throwing some red meat to its own domestic readers who are feeling the impact of sanctions because of Putin’s foreign policy interventions.
It’s unlikely that Trump’s nationalistic domestic policies will slow the growth in opioid abuse. With increasing technology replacing lower and medium level jobs, matters will get worse unless there is an effective intervention.
Let me ask an open question:
How should America and Canada effectively eliminate the opioid epidemic?