Over the last four years, the nation’s capital has undergone its worst public health crisis since the advent of AIDS: an explosion of fatalities of African Americans.
The rate of death caused by heroin shredded with the fatal synthetic opioid fentanyl is comparable to the worst deserts of opioid epidemics in rural areas and suburbs in the United States. More people died of opioid overdose than murder last year.
But the city’s overdose sacrifices differ from those in areas in the country most often associated with opioid abuse. Many are black men who have been addicted to heroin for decades. And unlike drug users in other places, they have often been left by the government without basic help.