NPR

'Nowhere To Go But Up ' — A Small Town Confronts Its Addiction Crisis

Two years after East Liverpool, Ohio, gained notoriety from a viral photo of an overdosed couple, the community is coming to terms with its addiction problem — and taking tentative steps forward.
The 2016 viral photo of a couple passed out in a car while a child sits in the back seat triggered a painful moment of self-reflection in East Liverpool, Ohio. The community took steps to address its addiction problem, but progress has been spotty. Source: Ian Brown for NPR

In September 2016, the town of East Liverpool, Ohio, captured national attention when a photo of a local couple's overdose went viral. It showed a woman and her boyfriend sprawled comatose in the front seats of a car, while the woman's 4-year-old grandson sat in the back. The image was originally posted by the local police department. Overnight, East Liverpool, a town of just over 11,000 people, became the face of the opioid crisis enveloping parts of the country.

Like many small communities in the Appalachian region, East Liverpool struggles with a foundering economy. The town is in the Mahoning Valley region, once home to a thriving steel industry. The region now has high unemployment and low average income, and has seen a steadily rising opioid overdose rate over the last decade.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min readPolitics
Wayfair Employees Protest Sale Of Furniture To Migrant Detention Center
"This is the first time I felt like I needed to hit the streets to make sure I was proud of my company, to make sure I was happy to work for them," employee Madeline Howard said at the walkout.
NPR3 min read
Champagne, Caviar And No Shame At All: Remembering Judith Krantz
The novelist, who died last week at 91, was often slammed by critics as a frivolous sex-and-shopping writer. But her luxuries were meticulously researched and her sex scenes gloriously shameless.
NPR2 min readPolitics
Senate Passes $4.6 Billion Emergency Border Funding Bill Signalling Battle With House
The sweeping 84-8 vote came minutes after the Senate handily rejected the House's humanitarian assistance bill, signalling what will likely be a contentious battle to reconcile the competing bills.