The recent uptick in drug deaths is not just due to opioids. Deaths from opioids have increased by 753% since 1999, but deaths from cocaine and methamphetamines have increased by approximately 456% during this same time.
The increase in self-medication using a variety of mind altering drugs suggests that there has been an overall increase in pain and unhappiness, which these drugs mask.
Hence, any solution we pursue must focus on reducing the demand for these substances. We’ve learned from alcohol and marijuana prohibition that efforts to control supply are ineffective and cause more unintended harms than they prevent.