VOA Special Report

The Damage Done

Living America’s Opioid Nightmare

The U.S. opioid epidemic rages on. The latest official estimates say 72,000* * Provisional drug overdose death counts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on data available July 1, 2018. Provisional counts are subject to change and may underestimate final counts. people died from drug overdoses in 2017 – nearly 200 victims a day. Most of the toll – two-thirds – involves pain pills, heroin, and the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl. Overdoses are now the top cause of death for adults under 50. And as bad as the estimates seem, researchers say actual overdose deaths are likely 20 to 35 percent higher.

All this year, VOA journalists Chris Simkins and Jeff Swicord are documenting stories from the epidemic’s front lines. The Damage Done follows Americans in three cities – Miami, Philadelphia, and Nashville, N.C. – where lives and neighborhoods have been transformed by drug abuse.