Recent trends demonstrate that drug deaths (both opiate overdose and fatal mixed interactions with other drugs and alcohol) have had a major impact on the composition of the local labor force, families, communities and neighborhoods. This is reflected in the lives of workers, whose personal life and employment has been severely impaired by corporate plant relocations, downsizing, cuts in wages and health benefits. The traditional support systems, which provided aid to workers damaged by these trends, such as trade unions, public social workers and mental health professionals, were either unable or unwilling to intervene before or after the scourge of drug addiction had come into play.
Only recently, in the face of incredible numbers of hospitalizations and deaths from narcotic overdose, the federal government has started to release funds for research. Academic-medical researchers have started to collect and publicize data on the growing epidemic of opiate deaths; they provide shocking maps of the most affected counties and regions. They join the chorus in urging the federal and state agencies to become more actively involved in usual panacea: ‘education and prevention’. This beehive of activity has come two decades too late into the epidemic and reeks of cynicism.