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This Week In Public Health: Drug Lobbying, Addiction Peer Coaches and A Great Science Project

Jake Harper
Side Effects Public Media

This was a big week for Side Effects ‒ after months of work, one reporter's investigation into drug lobbying efforts' influence on addiction policy went live. Also: hospitals try a new strategy to bridge the sometimes wide divide between opioid-addicted patients and care providers, and a purple-haired eighth-grader swings for the fences with a unique science fair project. >

This Week on Side Effects:

In Indiana, Drug Lobbyists ‒ Not Doctors ‒ Can Push Health Policy Forward In statehouses across the country, and in Congress, drug manufacturer Alkermes is pushing the addiction treatment Vivitrol while contributing to misconceptions and stigma about other medications.That Vivitrol has no street value and no potential for abuse has helped the drug shake some of the skepticism directed toward medication-assisted treatment...but it's not for everyone, and there are doubts about its long-term effectiveness. 

The Health Impacts Of Having a Parent Behind Bars It's common sense that having a parent in jail can affect kids' emotional health ‒ but how? Researchers and community leaders in Indiana, where more than 1 in 10 children have an incarcerated parent, are finding children suffer physiological and emotional effects from having an incarcerated parent. 

Credit Esther Honig / Side Effects/WOSU
Side Effects/WOSU

Hospitals Find Vital Ally In Recovering Addicts It can be difficult for staff to make a personal connection with someone struggling with an opiate addiction, with staff saying they see the same patients overdosing again and again. Hiring former addicts to act as "peer coaches" can connect people to services and lend motivation that doctors and other staffers just can't give. 

What our reporters are reading elsewhere around the web:

No volcanos for this girl The Indianapolis Star introduces us to eighth-grader Ashley Jones. She says it's easier to list the bones she hasn't broken (her jaw, her nose, her back) than the more than 100 she has. She has a rare disorder that makes her bones super-fragile, and she decided to use her school science project to help other people who share her disease.

Ask A Cryptkeeper! Have you ever been to a mausoleum and wondered: Where's the smell? The place is full of dead bodies, right? Death industry expert (and expert bang-haver)Caitlin Doughty from the Order of the Good Death explains why. (Warning: Gross.)

The Friendly Skies Airplanes can be unpleasant even on the best day. But for autistic kids with sensitivity to light, sound or touch, air travel can be a nightmare. This week, the New York Times reports on calming rooms with LED lights, special boarding privileges and other efforts airports are taking to make themselves a little friendlier for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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