opioid epidemic

Updated 11:41 a.m. ET Thursday

After a two-year battle, the Philadelphia nonprofit Safehouse says next week it will open the first space in the U.S. where people struggling with addiction can use opioids and other illegal drugs under the supervision of trained staff.

The RREACT cars are part of a program to provide overdose victims with treatment.
Columbus City Council

Columbus City Council on Monday night approved $371,523 in federal money to help fund a second Rapid Response Emergency Addiction Crisis Team in Franklin County. 

South Central Ohio Job and Family Services covers Ross, Vinton and Hocking counties.
Gabe Rosenberg / WOSU

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is creating a $1 million Emergency Response Fund to help agencies and caseworkers burdened by the ongoing opioid epidemic. 

A jug of used needles to exchange in Camden, N.J., on Oct. 29, 2015.
Mel Evans / Associated Press

Faith and community leaders plan to ask the Licking County Board of Health to repeal a ban on syringe access programs at the board’s meeting Tuesday.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Tammy’s struggle with substance use started with pain pills she found in her grandmother’s cabinet. Then it escalated to heroin.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine handles a box of Narcan during a news conference on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

Gov. Mike DeWine says he is cautiously satisfied with the terms of a potential massive settlement against drug companies and distributors who have been accused of enabling the opioid crisis.

Communities across the Midwest have been devastated by the opioid epidemic. But there's still a lot of misunderstanding about how opioids affect our bodies. A new and unusual museum exhibit is tackling this issue. 

Michele Rout is an assistant law director in the city of Chillicothe, one of the places in Ohio hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.

But her experience with the human toll of the crisis goes beyond the courtroom.

Rout and her husband are raising two grandchildren who were exposed to opioids before birth and experienced symptoms of withdrawal afterward — a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

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

Dispensing rates for the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone increased by 2,328% after a 2015 Ohio law went into effect that allowed pharmacists to give the drug without a prescription.

Gov. Mike DeWine signs the executive order creating the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center on July 31, 2019.
Olivia Miltner / WOSU

Gov. Mike Dewine is directing more than $2 million of grant funding into local drug task forces. 

For the first time since 2014, death rates in the U.S. declined and life expectancy showed a modest uptick, according to new data released in two reports Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Life expectancy at birth in 2018 was 78.7 years, 0.1 year longer than the previous year.

Summit County Council has approved spending $104 million in opioid settlement funds, but a committee that will determine how to use the money won't be fully formed until the spring. So it sits, unspent.

Greta Johnson, assistant chief of staff to County Executive Ilene Shapiro, said federal Judge Dan Polster has made it clear this should be spent more responsibly than tobacco settlement money from the 1990s.

Preliminary results show the Hamilton County Quick Response Teams (QRTs) have tried to reach nearly 800 people with drug addictions since the program started in April 2018.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.

A city worker walks past vacant houses in the Hilltop neighborhood.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Columbus has released a comprehensive plan for the Hilltop neighborhood. The nearly 200-page document lays out the history of the area, recent data on everything from employment to schools and housing to crime, and a 27-point plan for its future. 

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