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Zócalo Public Square Presents: Can Anything Stop America’s Opioid Addiction?


It’s been called the worst drug crisis in U.S. history, with death rates rivaling the AIDS scourge at its peak.

Since 1999, overdose deaths driven by opioids from heroin to prescription pain relievers have nearly quadrupled, crossing age, race, socioeconomic status, and geography. In 12 states, the Centers for Disease Control counted more opioid prescriptions than people. Communities are pushing primary care physicians to incorporate treatment into their practice, seeking greater regulation of pain medicine prescriptions, and advocating for mandatory counseling and drug testing for those who seek help.

As caregivers cast about for effective solutions, how viable are alternative approaches such as intensive therapy and medicinal marijuana? What is driving the surge in addiction, and what does it say about the rest of us?

Join our moderator Lisa Girion, Top News Editor for the Americas, Reuters, Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: True Tales of America’s Opiate Epidemic, UCLA legal scholar and health policy expert Jill Horwitz, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Benjamin Barron, and Larissa Mooney, Director of the UCLA Addiction Medicine Clinic, as they visit Zócalo to discuss America’s opioid epidemic and what more can be done to stop it.