Why are Americans drugging themselves to death?

Drugs, agony, and the pain of radical individualism

The Statue of Liberty.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

Americans are fond of calling the United States the greatest country in the world. But that doesn't mean the sentiment is universally shared. Critics point to various measures that raise doubts about the judgment: high rates of childhood poverty, sky-high levels of gun violence, a health-care system that covers fewer people at greater per capita cost than any other country in the world.

But perhaps the most shocking statistic of all is how many Americans have been dying of drug overdoses in recent years. As recently as 20 years ago, roughly 20,000 Americans a year were dying of drug abuse. By 2011, the number had doubled. It had doubled again, to 80,000, by 2019. And now, the government has released figures showing that during the 12-month period ending in April 2021, more than 100,000 Americans died from overdoses.

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