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The opioid epidemic is considered the deadliest drug crisis in U.S. history. The Trump Administration recently declared a public health emergency to deal with the epidemic. In Nevada, opioid overdoses were the leading cause of drug-related deaths in 2015. According to the National Vital Statistics System, 619 Nevadans died of a drug overdose that year and 68% of those deaths were from opioids.In this series, Reno Public Radio’s health reporter Anh Gray tours a treatment facility, and talks with substance abuse experts, patients and others to get the scope of the problem and explore some solutions.

Reno Considering Opioid Lawsuit Despite AG's Wishes

Reno could soon join the growing list of more than 100 cities around the nation that have pursued similar lawsuits.

The suit would seek damages from drug manufacturers as part of an effort to recoup some of the costs the city has faced that are associated with opioid abuse.

However, in a letter sent to Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve last week, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt urged the city to halt the possible lawsuit out of fear that it could derail Nevada's role in a multi-state investigation of deceptive trade practices by the drug manufacturers.

But Schieve says the city has the right to pursue any course of action to help fight opioid addiction in Reno.

"We see it every day," says Schieve. "Mayors are not about party, we're about people. I see the devastation that's happening in our city first hand; the lives that are lost and the stress that it's putting on our public safety, our fire, our police, our EMS. It's critical."

According to a report by the non-profit Trust for America's Health, Nevada has been ranked 4th in the nation for drug overdose deaths.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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