In western Europe opioid addiction is viewed “the way most Americans now look at AIDS — as a medical problem,” yet the US has been slow to act, writes Columbia University psychiatry professor Adam Bisaga.
At 50,000 a year, US opioid overdose deaths are on par with the AIDS epidemic’s peak. This crisis requires the same long-term medical care, grassroots campaigns, and research funding that saw AIDS-related mortality drop by more than half in 2 years in the 1990s.
Instead, medical treatments reach just 10-20% of US opioid patients. To defeat opioids, this treatment gap must be addressed as a medical problem, Bisaga writes.