Smaller cities and towns carry a unique burden when it comes to drug addiction.
I grew up in Mounds, Ill. It’s a small farming community of about 800 people in the southernmost part of the state. It may seem an unlikely place for a drug epidemic, but opioid addiction and substance abuse have plagued families there for decades. Years ago, the first of my close relatives died after a long struggle with prescription opioids.
That’s one reason why, as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, I keep the victims of this crisis close to my heart.
Under President Donald Trump, HHS has made the opioid crisis a top priority because it leaves no corner of our country untouched. When the crisis began, we worked mostly in rural areas to address overdoses and opioid-use disorder. The opioid crisis is nationwide and claimed approximately 116 American lives every day in 2016.
Eric D. Hargan is a Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This op-ed appeared in the Duluth News Tribune on August 5, 2018.