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Growing public awareness of the limited impact and devastating toll of the War on Drugs has encouraged many policymakers and criminal justice practitioners to begin its winding down. The number of people imprisoned nationwide for a drug offense skyrocketed
from 24,000 in 1980 to a peak of 369,000 in 2007.
It has since declined by nearly one-quarter, reaching approximately 287,000 people in the most recent count.
The lessons from past drug crises and the evidence base supporting a public health approach can guide policymakers as they seek an end to the current opioid crisis. Recommended strategies include: