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Opioids on the Quad

The opioid epidemic has ravaged communities around the nation — deaths from overdoses now outnumber deaths from car crashes — prompting President Trump to establish a federal task force and, on Thursday, to declare a public health emergency, allowing some grant money to be released to combat the problem and some laws and regulations to be eased. The task force is to issue a plan of action this week.

Already on campuses, recovery programs are expanding and multiplying, populated by students who have struggled with dependence on Percocet (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone), as well as those who have moved on to fentanyl and heroin, which are far cheaper on the street than prescription pills.

Little data exist on the extent of the problem among college students. But according to a 2016 national survey of them by the University of Michigan, 7 percent of 870 respondents said they had misused opioid painkillers; 4 percent had done so in the previous year. For 19- to 22-year-olds who hadn’t gone to college or had dropped out, which is common when struggling with addiction, close to 13 percent said they had misused painkillers.