Moments before a cluster of congressmen began their 9:30 a.m. presentation at the 2016 National RX Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta Wednesday, the grim clock above them stood at 6,970: the number of people dead from an opioid or heroin overdose in the roughly 72 hours since the summit began Monday evening.
When the speakers arrived at the dais, it was 6,970.
When they sat down, it was 6,971.
The speakers, including long-time prevention and treatment advocate U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, had some other numbers.
They cited the 23 percent drop in crime in Gloucester, Massachusetts, since the police chief there told addicts who turned themselves in they would not be arrested but would instead get treatment.
There’s the street value of a single bottle of oxycodone: $2,000. And there’s the sevenfold increase in the amount of Mexican heroin coming into the U.S. in just seven years.
When the congressmen began winding up their speeches two hours later, though, the number left behind was this one.