|Drug users, Lower Wacker Drive, December, 2016|
You aren't supposed to start a sentence with a number, never mind a stand-alone sentence or paragraph.
Maybe it should have been:
Either way it looks wrong, which is fitting, since 64,000 is the number of Americans who died from drug overdoses last year. That just seems wrong, and is, though the figure is accurate.
News to me. I'd have guessed the number half as much. But deaths from drug overdose have shot up—compare that figure to some 40,000 Americans who died in highway accidents in 2016, and that was a particularly bad year on the road, due to more texting and more driving in general, because of lower gas prices.
The figure popped out of this fine New York Times story about Dr. Thomas A. Andrew, the former medical examiner in New Hampshire, the state hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, who quit his post after 20 years and entered the seminary in the hopes of steering young people away from using and dying from drugs instead of cutting them up after they already have.
Overdoses, the article pointed out, are the leading cause of death among people under 50, and the problem is so severe that OD deaths have actually cut two months off life the average life expectancy for Americans.
As terrible as was the killing of 58 people a week ago in Las Vegas, that is the death toll from drug overdoses about every eight hours in America, 365 days a year. If only we could focus our attention on the daily, pervasive problem as intently as we focus on this relatively rare one. But that is our way—scared of sharks while shrugging off heart attacks.
And as with gun deaths, drug overdoses have powerful financial interests, in this case pharmaceutical companies, that encourage pervasive use while ignoring, more or less, inevitable misuse of their products
The problem can only be expected to get worse, as our government tries to fight drug use through increased punishment, and because of our general inability to admit to social problems, never mind do anything about them.