Every day across the country, nearly 100 people die from overdoses of opioids, powerful narcotic painkillers that attach to cells and dull pain, slow breathing and bring on an overall sense of calm and satisfaction. Since 1999, the rate of fatal prescription opioid overdoses in the U.S. has quadrupled. In 2015, drug overdoses claimed more lives than car accidents and gun violence and rivaled the HIV/AIDS crisis at its peak. The toll, as the White House commission on the crisis put it, is the equivalent of the 9/11 attacks every three weeks.
Understanding how this crisis is upending lives, devastating families and changing communities requires hearing the stories of those with the most at stake. On Oct. 3, 2016, Ron and Carla Hiers became an official part of the grim record, their overdoses added to the several hundred tallied in the city that year, and to the tens of thousands documented for the country. “That’s what drugs and alcohol will do to you,” says Ron. “It’ll take you places you can’t imagine.”
This is their story.
// lead editor
National Magazine Award Winner
Edward R. Murrow Award Winner
Telly Award: Gold Winner // Silver Winner
Life After Addiction: How A Viral Video Of A Couple's Overdose Became A Chance At Redemption | TIME