Published by The Washington Post

The morning of the long drive, a drive he took every month now, Kenyon Stewart rose from the living room recliner and winced in pain. He looked outside, at the valley stretching below his trailer, and again wondered whether it was getting time to end it. He believed living was a choice, and this was how he considered making his: A trip to the gun store. A purchase of a Glock 9mm. An answer to a problem that didn’t seem to have one.

Stewart is 49 years old. He has long silver hair and an eighth-grade education. For the past four years, he has taken large amounts of prescription opioids, ever since a surgery to replace his left hip, ruined by decades of trucking, left him with nerve damage. In the time since, his life buckled. First he lost his job. Then his house, forcing a move across the state to this trailer park. Then began a monthly drive of 367 miles, back to his old pain clinic, for an opioid prescription that no doctor nearby would write.