The United States is in the throes of an addiction crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, U.S. overdose deaths topped 70,200 in 2017, with 47,600 of those caused by opioids. President Donald Trump has repeatedly declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, but so far it's been bravado rhetoric with little action.

In the meantime, users continue to struggle. Neal Catlett, a thirty-nine-year-old recovering opioid addict from Lexington, Kentucky, has some less traditional ideas to offer: Could there be a drug to "spiritually awaken" those who suffer? Could the venom from a toad be the antidote to help America kick its dependency?

I first met Catlett during a march commemorating Overdose Awareness Day in New York City. He invited me to tag...

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