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drug addiction

Erica Watkins is now a regular at TITLE Boxing Club in Indianapolis.
Carter Barrett / Side Effects Public Media

It’s a Friday evening and a dozen or so people – men, women, teenagers, little kids – are gathered at TITLE Boxing Club. It’s an upscale boxing studio near a largely vacant shopping mall on Indianapolis' north side.

Donna McMullen holds a photo of her daughter, Jessica, who died in September.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

“That’s my mommy, look!” Three-year old Adalynn McMullen points a little dimpled finger at a collage of photos on a trifold board.

The photos show her mom, Jessica McMullen, over the years – from when she was in diapers to just a few years ago, holding Adalynn on her lap.

OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vermont.
Toby Talbot / AP

Ohio's annual conference of behavioral health workers comes at an interesting time in the field. Though still burdened by the opioid epidemic, counties across the state say they’re heartened by Gov. Mike DeWine’s focus on mental health and recovery.

Editor's note: To protect the anonymity of the children in this story, we are not using their names.

Children are often called the hidden casualties of the opioid epidemic. They carry a lot of secrets and shame.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is backing a study to take an in-depth look at the genetic factors behind substance abuse disorder. Yost believes this will be a critical step towards data-based prevention efforts.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

A judge has ruled that a Philadelphia nonprofit group's plan to open the first site in the U.S. where people can use illegal opioids under medical supervision does not violate federal drug laws, delivering a major setback to Justice Department lawyers who launched a legal challenge to block the facility.

The state of Ohio is one of the bloodiest battlefields in the national war on opioids.

By 2017, Ohio was second to West Virginia in rates of overdose deaths — 5,111. State district attorneys are battling with the makers of prescription opioids, and the settlements will someday help pay for programs to help addicts.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

At first glance, the people inside Franklin County Municipal Court room 13C have little in common. There’s a man in cutoff jean shorts with tattooed arms. Behind him sits a younger woman with freckles who looks like she came from soccer practice.

The group is bound together by circumstance: All were addicted to opioids and got in trouble with the law.

CATCH Court graduate Melissa Callaway hugs her sister.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Graduates walked into the atrium of the Ohio Statehouse, greeted by cheers from their friends and loved ones. One by one, they step up to the microphone.

“I spent 37 years of my life a homeless drug addict, a victim of human trafficking on the streets of Columbus,” says Barb Davis. “I truly knew it was my destiny to die out there.”

Deadly heart infections linked to drug use rose nationally from 8 percent to 16 percent from 2002 to 2016, according to a new study from the Cleveland Clinic.

The majority of patients with the abuse-related illness were younger, low-income white males on Medicaid. Regionally across the United States, the Midwest saw the largest increases in these cases.

Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

Thanks to a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Franklin County will receive nearly $4 million annually for the next three years to better track and respond to opioid abuse.

West Park Avenue looks like an idyllic Columbus street: A-tree lined boulevard cuts through the middle, and every house has a porch and a small front yard.

But looking closer, it’s clear the neighborhood has been hit by the opioid crisis. A few houses are boarded up, and orange caps from syringes litter the sidewalk.

Ohio University

Ohio University received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help increase health providers in areas hit hardest by the opioid crisis.

How An Influx Of Opioids Took Its Toll On Jackson County, Ohio

Jul 19, 2019
Eddie Davis walks past tributes on his way to his son Jeremy's gravestone, who died from the abuse of opioids, Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in Coalton, Ohio.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

The numbers are staggering: An average yearly total of 107 opioid pills per resident were distributed over a seven-year period in this rural county deep in Appalachia.

Alyssa, left, discusses her academic record with teacher Leslie MacNabb.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Bouncing on a purple exercise ball, Alyssa talks to her new teacher about what classes she needs to graduate.

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