Chillicothe is a historic town in a transitional landscape. To the north and west are fields of corn and soybeans, a classic, flat Midwestern terrain. To the south and east are the foothills of Appalachia, with winding country roads that, when crossing a stream, narrow to a single lane.The story introduces a number of women living in a halfway house recovering from addiction, and then this summary of what is happening:
These women are trying to survive an epidemic of self-destruction in small-town and rural America. Death rates have risen sharply among whites, particularly women, particularly those with a high school education or less — the white working class that played a key role in the November election. Last year, overall life expectancy in the United States fell for the first time since 1993, when HIV was rampant.
Today there is no emergent virus running amok. Instead, Americans are dying from a rash of pathologies, sicknesses and addictions that experts call “diseases of despair.”This is the most recent of a Washington Post series of stories about these deaths of despair, most of them focusing on white women. One of the prior stories, out of Las Animas County, Colorado, is here.