Addiction

Seth Herald for Side Effects

Months in prison didn’t rid Daryl of his addiction to opioids.

“Before I left the parking lot of the prison, I was shooting up getting high,” he says.

Who Do First Responders Call For Help?

Aug 9, 2018
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Blood has a distinct, coppery scent. If that's what Brandon Dreiman smelled when he stepped off the fire truck, he knew his job wasn’t going to be easy.

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Dr. Elliot Tapper has treated a lot of patients, but this one stood out.

"His whole body was yellow," Tapper remembers. "He could hardly move. It was difficult for him to breathe, and he wasn't eating anything."

The patient was suffering from chronic liver disease. After years of alcohol use, his liver had stopped filtering his blood. Bilirubin, a yellowish waste compound, was building up in his body and changing his skin color.

Disturbing to Tapper, the man was only in his mid-30s – much younger than most liver disease patients.

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Ohio is among one of the hardest hit states by the opioid crisis. Yet, for five years in a row, Ohio along with every state in the U.S. has seen a continuous drop in opioid prescriptions.  Still the number of people who die from opioid overdoses continues to climb. This is all part of a national trend captured in a recent report from the American Medical Association.

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Across the country, states desperate to prevent opioid addiction are increasingly looking to medical cannabis as a solution. Lawmakers in several states, including New York, Indiana, Georgia and Tennessee, have taken action to initiate or expand their medical marijuana programs to try and address the opioid crisis.

Illinois is trying to do the same.

Jake Harper / Side Effects

It was a scheduling mishap that led Kourtnaye Sturgeon to help save someone’s life. About four months ago, Sturgeon drove to downtown Indianapolis for a meeting. She was a week early.

“I wasn’t supposed to be there,” she said.


The opioid addiction crisis is getting worse, and it's often reported on in desperate terms. But to the people working on the front lines of the problem, there are known and proven approaches that can help. This series introduces you to these people and how they're tackling the issue in their communities — with hope, compassion and strength.

First, Do No Harm

Christine Herman

Aric Hartvig / WFYI

Syringe exchanges are a controversial concept. Even when they're successful at containing disease, they can be difficult to sell to the public. In Madison County, Indiana, residents' ethical concerns shut down a program, which was put in place to curb rates of hepatitis C.

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Starting December 1, patients on Indiana’s Healthy Indiana Plan will have an easier time getting certain opioid addiction medications. The four insurers that manage plans for Indiana’s Medicaid program, HIP 2.0, are eliminating an administrative hurdle that can cause patients to wait days to receive their prescription, leaving them vulnerable to relapse and overdose.


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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is investigating the pharmaceutical company Alkermes for its marketing and lobbying efforts used to “artificially boost sales” of its addiction drug, Vivitrol.

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