opioid addiction

The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

The bill, which had previously passed the House, will now be sent to President Obama. He has indicated that he will sign it, despite concerns that it doesn't provide enough funding.

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. 

This week: A new therapeutic court offers a way to cope for victims of sex trafficking. American Stem Cell tourists might not have to leave the country to get experimental treatments anymore. When insurers stand in the way of curing opioid addiction.

Twice a day, Angela and Nate Turner of Greenwood, Indiana, take tiny strips that look like colored scotch tape, and put them under their tongues.

“They taste disgusting,” Angela says.

NC Pharmacists To Make Choices With New Naloxone Order

Jul 5, 2016
Photo courtesy / NC DHHS

In 2014, nearly 1,200 people in North Carolina died from accidental opioid drug overdoses.

Every one of them could still be alive today, said Rick Brajer, Health and Human Services secretary, if they had had access to something to reverse their overdoses.

Dr. Jessie Gaeta, chief medical officer at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, inside the conference room where heroin users are monitored while they ride out a high.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

It's  just a quiet room filled with comfortable chairs, stocked with oxygen tanks and blood pressure cuffs. But it's likely the only place of it's kind in the country - a safe place where drug users can come to sit out a high under medical supervision. 

As nurse April Donahue tells WBUR's Commonhealth, the experience is different from working with this population in the past. 

Rhode Island Gov. Unveils Plan To Reduce Overdose Deaths

May 17, 2016
An ambulance driving fast

The plan, developed by a task force of experts, calls for decreasing the number of overdose deaths by a third in three years. 

In the past few years, deaths from illicit drug overdose have climbed 50 percent in Rhode Island. One major reason: fentanyl, a drug 50 times as potent as heroin that’s being mixed into the heroin supply. Today, Gov. Gina Raimondo unveiled new initiatives to combat the rising number of deaths.

When Time Behind Bars Cuts Addiction Treatment Short

May 11, 2016

Michael Burghardt couldn't sleep. His legs were shaking, his bones ached and he couldn't stop throwing up.

Burghardt was in the Valley Street Jail in Manchester, N.H. This was his 11th stay at the jail in the last 12 years. There had been charges for driving without a license, and arguments where the police were called. This time, Burghardt was in after an arrest for transporting drugs in a motor vehicle.

This story is part of NPR's podcast Embedded, which digs deep into the stories behind the news.

Sitting on a dresser in the back bedroom of a house in Austin, Ind., is the bottom of a soda can. A woman places a sliver of a pill, a powerful prescription opioid called Opana, on the jagged half-can. She begins to heat the pill with a cigarette lighter, melting its hard white coating and turning it the color of whiskey.

Her name is Joy.

This story is part of NPR's podcast Embedded, which digs deep into the stories behind the news.

In the spring of 2015, something was unfolding in Austin, Ind.