How the Humanities Can Help the Opioid Crisis | Thrive Global

The opioid epidemic is the public health crisis of our time: with 64,000 annual deaths, it has surpassed the peak losses of all other epidemics, including HIV/AIDS. The financial toll is staggering: over $500 billion annually. Myriad solutions have been proposed, some implemented. And yet, the overall national response remains tepid.

We believe that a major reason for this is the prevailing tendency to see the opioid epidemic as a problem of the other. Elevating the human dimension of the crisis, and recognizing that this is not about them, but about us can go a long way towards redressing our predicament. Fortunately, a vast literature exists to aid our efforts because some of the most eloquent literary minds have written about addiction to opioids.

The ties between aesthetic power and opioid addiction are as old as Ancient Greece, where Homer sang in Book Four of The Odyssey about Opium as “the drug to heal all pain and anger, and bring forgetfulness of every sorrow.” In his 1821 memoir Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Thomas DeQuincey provided one of the most comprehensive accounts of life in the throes of addiction, which he summarized concisely: “Opium gives and takes away.”

Read full piece at Thrive Global.