Examine the history and influence of opioids, and how their use transformed from pain relief into a national epidemic.
Opioids been cultivated by humans since antiquity, with earliest references to opium poppies as Hul Gil, the "the joy plant" in 5000 year old Sumerian cuneiform tablets. Medical use of opioids was described by Hippocrates in the 5th century BCE. While the medical benefits of opioids for relief of pain are well recognized, their overuse and abuse has also led to an epidemic of addiction and deaths, uncountable and often untold suffering. Much about opioids has been published -- spanning fiction, biography, lay and scientific literature. Laila Lalami, the author of The Other Americans, introduces the difficult and vexing topic of opioid addiction.