Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released recently show that deaths from opioid overdoses surged during the pandemic. This week, a New York Times story called it “an increasingly urgent public health crisis,” noting that the 87,000 American lives lost to drug overdose over a recent 12-month period surpasses the toll “from any year since the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s.”

As a leading scholar of the social history of drugs, drug policy, and harm reduction, Nancy Campbell, the head of the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, can provide insight into how a confluence of factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the risk of overdose death.

“I think of opioids as technologies that are perfectly suited for making you OK with social isolation," Campbell said in an interview last year.

Campbell, whose most recent book is OD: Naloxone and the Politics of Overdose, can also offer strategies for reversing the rising tide of overdose death.

“Nobody should die of overdose,” Campbell said in a recent public radio piece. “A high overdose death rate signals that we have not cared for the people who have been hurt most by the war on drugs, first pursued by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954.”

Campbell is available to discuss a wide range of topics relating to the opioid crisis, including drug policy and history.