Opioid Some observers argue that the opioid epidemic was caused by the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008, which deprived many people of their economic livelihood and created understandable emotional strain on individuals and communities. But the opioid epidemic began ten years before the economic crisis, and there was no opioid epidemic to speak of during the Great Depression. Further, another deadly addiction—to cigarettes—declined before, during, and after the 2007 to 2008 financial meltdown. Moreover, by itself poverty cannot cause addiction in any simple sense. To become addicted to a substance a person must first use it, and lower-income people have higher abstention rates (usually for religious or cultural reasons) than do middle- and higher- income individuals.
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