As Opioid Overdose Deaths Decline, An Old, Deadly Drug Crisis Comes Back With a Vengeance in Cleveland


Brad wears sandals even though it's the coldest day of December. He and a few friends greet me at a gas station in East Cleveland. I follow them as they cross the street, squeeze through a tight alleyway, and maneuver through a backyard zoo of mutilated grills and scooters. A door opens with a kick and we descend into a chilly concrete basement.

Brad is short but formidable. Up close, though, a sickly green haunts his hair, his cheeks, his lips, his arms. We step past towers of junk and into hallways filled with crushed Coke cans, stained pipes, and sleeping bags peeking from the shadows.