While other countries are succeeding in reducing the number of opioid overdose deaths, U.S. rates are rising.

29 May 2017

It’s no secret that there's a drug overdose crisis in the United States. Opioid overdose deaths have risen 255% from 1999 to 2015. The US has failed to beat the opioid epidemic with drug courts, 12 step rehabs, and even medications like Vivitrol. However, seven other countries have overcome a huge drug overdose crisis very cheaply using technology which is more than 50 years old.

Their secret? They have made methadone, an extremely cheap drug which costs less than a dollar a day for a maintenance dose, readily available to everyone who needs it. Rather than mandating expensive and stigmatizing methadone clinics, they allow any patients who need methadone to take their doses in their doctors’ offices or even at pharmacies... for free!


In order to find out what works and what doesn't work in fighting an overdose crisis, data has been looked at from 33 countries which have published detailed data about drug dependence, overdose, and treatment responses over a long period of time.

A major overdose crisis was defined as more than 2.0 drug poisoning deaths per 100,000 person years. Long term success was defined as a greater than 40% reduction in overdose deaths for a minimum of nine years.

Seven countries were successful at greatly reducing overdose deaths: Australia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, and Switzerland.

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