It’s a loose analogy (yet a useful one) to say that the opioid crisis is to the Great Recession as the Dust Bowl was to the Great Depression. These deep economic downturns did not cause, respectively, either the Dust Bowl or the opioid crisis, but each downturn did exacerbate the severity of its coincident calamity. What came first made what came next worse (as in both cases they overlapped).
A Great Depression would have been loss enough, but America endured a Great Depression and a Dust Bowl. A Great Recession would have been enough, but America has endured a Great Recession and yet endures an opioid crisis.
The Midwest has been hit notably hard by both the recent recession and opioid addiction. Not to see this clearly would be something like pretending that the Depression wasn’t a hard time, and the Dust Bowl wasn’t a hard time, in the 1930s.
Truly, it hasn’t been a hard time for some of us, as the ‘30s weren’t hard for some. The least we can do, however, is to see and describe conditions clearly for those whose circumstances are more difficult than our own.