Drug Decriminalization Saves Lives
The criminalization of drugs hasn’t kept them from becoming a public health hazard — and we can’t just pretend they don’t exist. More than 106,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2021 in the United States, a number that has doubled since 2015. Three-quarters of the overdose deaths in 2021 were from opioid use, and nearly 3 million Americans struggle with opioid use disorder today. To help affected people, many are arguing for a policy of “harm reduction” to make drug use less risky. Sites provide clean syringes and alcohol wipes to prevent the spread of infectious diseases for IV drug users, for example and are prepared with oxygen masks and the anti-overdose drug naloxone to help manage bad reactions.