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February 20, 2019

KAROL MARKOWICZ: The opioid epidemic keeps killing my friends.

After the funerals, the friends and family stood around looking at the ground. We assured each other that there was nothing anybody could have done for the ­deceased. It’s true, but it’s cold comfort. We play back the last moments, the last time we spoke, our last interactions. Were there signs? Maybe. Even if we knew, what could anyone do? Addiction is a sneaky disease, and addicts can get very good at hiding the fact that they are afflicted.

The range of the afflicted has expanded. My friend was a college graduate with parents who loved her. These kinds of details shouldn’t matter when we talk about people who die young, but for so long we were able to dismiss this epidemic as something that happens to other people — the ones alone, without family, without love. The last few years have exploded this misconception. The epidemic has been moving ever closer to us all.

The wave of deaths has escalated from sad to frightening in short order.

And then this:

My ethnic community is among the hard-hit. There isn’t much ­research on drug use specifically among immigrants from the former Soviet Union living in New York. But one 2012 paper noted that substance-abuse and HIV rates among immigrants from the former Soviet Union “appear to be disproportionately high” in comparison to other immigrant groups and “possibly even native populations.”

I wonder why that is.