heroin

Jason was hallucinating. He was withdrawing from drugs at an addiction treatment center near Indianapolis, and he had hardly slept for several days.

"He was reaching for things, and he was talking to Bill Gates and he was talking to somebody else I'm just certain he hasn't met," his mother, Cheryl, says. She remembers finding Jason lying on the floor of the treatment center in late 2016. "I would just bring him blankets because they didn't have beds or anything."

Credit Sebastián Martínez Valdivia/Side Effects Public Media

About 15 miles southwest of St. Louis is Fenton City Park. It’s pretty unremarkable, with picnic shelters, softball fields, and flags waving gently from a memorial to fallen soldiers. This is where Kevin Mullane sought refuge as he struggled with an opioid addiction.

Lauren Bavis/Side Effects Public Media

In 2018, Side Effects covered community struggles with public health crises, barriers to treatment and clever workarounds to get vulnerable people the care they need. 

Indianapolis, Indiana.
Evan Walsh

On a rainy day in Austin, Indiana, Brittany Combs, the public health nurse for Scott County, drives around in a white SUV. Medical supplies are piled high in the back of the vehicle: syringes and condoms, containers for used needles, over-the-counter medications.


Emily Forman

Tia Hosler woke up at 7:35 a.m. on a friend’s couch next to her newborn son’s crib after an overnight babysitting gig.

The 26-year-old had slept through her alarm and was late for the bus, her ride to group therapy in Fort Wayne, Indiana. And now she had to scramble. She tied her Kool-Aid-red hair into a tight bun and kissed her 2-month-old, Marsean. 


Public Restrooms Become Ground Zero In The Opioid Epidemic

May 15, 2017
Håkan Dahlström / http://bit.ly/2pOfaKF

A man named Eddie threaded through the midafternoon crowd in Cambridge, Mass. He was headed for a sandwich shop, the first stop on a tour of public bathrooms.

“I know all the bathrooms that I can and can’t get high in,” said Eddie, 39, pausing in front of the shop’s plate-glass windows, through which we can see a bathroom door.

Eugene Peretz/Flickr

A new study from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI in Indianapolis has found that restricting opioid prescriptions may have an unintended side effect: more overdose deaths involving heroin and fentanyl. The study also shows that Indiana’s reports don’t reflect the actual number of overdose deaths in which opioid drugs are present.

Jake Harper / Side Effects

When someone dies unexpectedly outside of a hospital in Marion County, Alfarena Ballew, chief deputy coroner, gets a call.


Karen Shakerdge

In a big hotel conference room in Times Square, six doctors huddle around a greasy piece of pork. They watch as an addiction medicine specialist, Michael Frost, delicately marks the meat, incises it and implants four match-sized rods.

“If you can do it well on the pork, you can easily do it on the person,” Frost tells his audience.

Frost is training the group of doctors to implant the newly FDA-approved drug Probuphine. 

Details On Death Certificates Offer Layers Of Clues To Opioid Epidemic

Jun 1, 2016

Dr. James Gill walked through the morgue in Farmington, Conn., recently, past the dock where the bodies come in, past the tissue donations area, and stopped outside the autopsy room.

"We kind of have a typical board listing all of the decedents for the day," Gill said, pointing to the list of names on a dry-erase board. "Overdose, overdose, overdose, overdose, overdose. That's just for today."

Pages