opioid epidemic

A Gannett Newspapers reporter who was part of a team of journalists observing the opioid epidemic across Ohio in July  wrote this about paramedics in Newark near Columbus attempting to revive a man from an overdose:

“They’ve tried spraying naloxone into his nostrils, but it’s had no effect. He’s not breathing. They’re running out of time.

With the country in the throes of an epidemic, communities across the nation are being forced to confront the harrowing, and often fatal, effects of opioid abuse. But solutions — such as creating intervention programs in Ohio, providing access to treatment in Alabama, or investing in prevention initiatives in Missouri — cost money.

This story was co-published with The New York Times.

At a time when the United States is in the grip of an opioid epidemic, many insurers are limiting access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications.

The attorneys general of 41 U.S. states said Tuesday that they're banding together to investigate the makers and distributors of powerful opioid painkillers that have, over the past decade, led to a spike in opiate addictions and overdose deaths.

Jason Reynolds / WYSO

Overdose deaths continue to rise in Southwest Ohio, and the opioid epidemic is taking a toll on courts as more and more addicts end up behind bars for drug-related crimes. To help mitigate overcrowding, some Miami Valley counties are launching special drug courts.

The courts offer nonviolent addicts a chance to avoid jail and get the services they need to stay clean and out of trouble for good—but it’s no easy fix.

ideastream

The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin, joined President Trump’s opioid task force at the Cleveland VA Medical Center on Thursday.

Kyle Cook and Carla Saunders are neonatal nurse practitioners at a children's hospital in Knoxville, Tenn., where they've spent decades caring for infants. In the summer of 2010, their jobs began to change.

"We had six babies in the nursery who were in withdrawal," Saunders, 51, remembers.

The Cincinnati Enquirer sent reporters into the field for seven days to report on the heroin crisis. They returned with an alarming snapshot of a national epidemic.

Drug Companies Ask Judge To Dismiss Ohio's Opioid Lawsuit

Sep 12, 2017
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is expected to start his campaign for Ohio Governor soon after announcing his bid earlier this year.
KAREN KASLER / Ohio Public Radio

Five drugmakers are asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Ohio attorney general that alleges they helped perpetrate the state's addictions epidemic.

Jonathan Guffey has chiseled youthful looks and, at 32, does not have the haggard bearing of someone who has spent more than half his life hooked on opioids. That stint with the drug started at 15 and ended — he says for good — 22 months ago. He has a job working with his family in construction, but his work history is pockmarked by addiction.

"I've worked in a couple of factories for a short amount of time, probably just long enough to get the first check to get high off of," Guffey says.

Amanda Rabinowitz / WKSU

Tugg Massa is one of the Ohioans who headed to Houston this week to help clean up after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. But this Akronite’s reason for the trip is tied as much to another crisis – the nation’s addiction crisis. 

Driving down the main commercial artery in Muncie, Ind., it seems the job market is doing well. The local unemployment rate stands at 3.8 percent, and there are hiring signs posted outside the McDonald's, a pizza joint and at stop lights.

Around 2007 — the last time the market was so tight — job applicants came streaming through the offices of Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency that screens and places about 120 workers a month, mostly at the local manufacturing firms.

New limits on prescription painkillers took effect yesterday. And the state says prescription opioid deaths are down from a peak in 2011, and the number of heroin deaths last year was the same as in 2015. But now, deaths from illicit drugs such as cocaine and meth have spiked. 

Ohio’s overdose deaths increased by a third last year to 4,050, meaning that on average, 11 Ohioans are dying each day from overdoses. According to the numbers released today by the Ohio Department of Health, more than half of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Gov. John Kasich rolls out official prescription drug rules for acute pain at the Ohio Statehouse.
Andy Chow / Ohio Public Radio

Ohio health officials said on Wednesday that more than 4,000 people died from drug overdoses in Ohio in 2016. That death toll was up by 33 percent over the previous year.

As Gov. John Kasich rolls out more ways to crack down on painkiller prescriptions, critics believe there’s an obvious resource that’s not being utilized in the opioid crisis.

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