opioid crisis

NPR's "Take A Number" series is exploring problems around the world — and solutions — through the lens of a single number.

One of the places many people are first prescribed opioids is a hospital emergency room. But in one of the busiest ERs in the U.S., doctors are relying less than they used to on oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin and other opioids to ease patients' pain.

Naloxone is an antidote that can help reverse drug overdoses.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control show the number of opioid overdose deaths is higher in Ohio than all but two other states, and the rate of increase is third in the nation as well.

The opioid epidemic has cost the U.S. more than a trillion dollars since 2001, according to a new study, and may exceed another $500 billion over the next three years.

Drugmakers gave millions of dollars to pain-treatment advocacy groups over a five-year period beginning in 2012, in effect promoting opioids to individuals most vulnerable to addiction, according to a new report released Monday by a U.S. senator.

Across the country, states desperate to prevent opioid addiction are considering medical cannabis as a solution.

Citing the opioid crisis, lawmakers in several states are looking to initiate or expand their medical marijuana programs including KentuckyNew YorkNew Jersey and Indiana. And in Illinois, where opioids have claimed nearly 11,000 lives over the past decade, the legislature is considering a measure that would allow patients with an opioid prescription get access to marijuana instead.


Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau

Republican state lawmakers are hoping to help send a particular group of at-risk kids to college – those whose parents are addicted to opioids and other drugs. They'd do it with a program that they hope to create with legislation being introduced soon.

More than three months after President Trump declared the nation's opioid crisis a public health emergency, activists and health care providers say they're still waiting for some other action.

The Trump administration quietly renewed the declaration recently. But it has given no signs it's developing a comprehensive strategy to address an epidemic that claims more than 115 lives every day. The president now says that to combat opioids, he's focused on enforcement, not treatment.

In leggings and a long black hoodie, Ray walked idly up and down Sullivant Avenue in Columbus, Ohio. A block away, an elementary school had let out for the day and students walked home. For Ray, work had just started.

University of Dayton

There's an old adage: The first step to change is knowing you have a problem. Kelly Cushion, a software design engineer at University of Dayton's Research Institute, decided to take it one step further. 

She wants to change the brain chemistry of people addicted to opioids to help them see they have a problem.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

At an Associated Press political forum on Thursday, Gov. John Kasich covered a lot of ground, talking about jobs, the economy, the opioid crisis and his future plans. For now, he says he’s willing to step in to help Republican lawmakers and citizens’ groups work out a deal on Ohio’s Congressional map-drawing process.

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