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addiction

It started with a rolled ankle during a routine training exercise.

Shannon Hubbard never imagined it was the prologue to one of the most debilitating pain conditions known to exist, called ­­­­­­­complex regional pain syndrome.

It's a condition that causes the nervous system to go haywire, creating pain disproportionate to the actual injury. It can also affect how the body regulates temperature and blood flow.

Alexandria Santa Barbara is a 39-year-old mother of three from a working-class suburb of Philadelphia.

The addiction story for Santa Barbara, who goes by the name Alexis, follows a familiar course: She had been prescribed Percocet years ago to treat back pain. When the drug became unavailable, she turned to heroin. And she became hooked — not long after getting laid off from her job at a local deli.

Across the street from her, her neighbor, identified just as "J.M." in court papers, was also in the grip of an opioid addiction.

With John Harwood

Toward the end of our show that looked at a Massachusetts court case that could change the landscape of the criminal justice system, J.J. from Nashville, Tennessee called in and told us of the complexities behind addiction, relapsing, and probation.

(Transcript lightly edited for clarity): 

L122, one of the newest members of the Southern Resident Community of orcas, spotted Sept. 7 near Sooke, British Columbia.
Dave Ellifrit/Center for Whale Research

Bill Radke talks with our panel about the declining number of orcas in Puget Sound and if we should stop whale watching. We also look at the New York Times investigation into pregnancy discrimination, and why the World Health Organization has added "gaming disorder" to its disease classifications.

Courtesy of Beowulf Sheehan and Leslie Jamison

On her website, Leslie Jamison writes: “I've worked as a baker, an office temp, an innkeeper, a tutor, and a medical actor. Every one of these was a world; they're still in me.” On her way through those worlds, Jamison dealt with alcohol addiction. She tracked that experience —  from inception to recovery — in her new memoir “The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath.”

The tall, gangly man twists a cone of paper in his hands as stories from nearly 30 years of addiction pour out: the robbery that landed him in prison at 17; never getting his GED; going through the horrors of detox, maybe 40 times, including this latest, which he finished two weeks ago. He's now in a residential unit for at least 30 days.

Needle exchanges provide people with drug addictions a place to turn in used needles and get new ones while working to prevent outbreaks of hepatitis and HIV. In 2017, Las Vegas installed three vending machines to dispense free, unused needles.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young learns more from Chelsi Cheatom, program manager for Trac-B Exchange, a medical clinic in Clark County, Nevada.

FLICKR PHOTO/GOODIEZ (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Two reports released this month showed a decline in opioid prescriptions in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

One report looked at Medicaid enrollees, the other people on Medicare.

Both reports find medical pot can encourage lower prescription opioid use and serve as a harm abatement tool in the opioid crisis.

Dr. Andrew Saxon is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington and director of the Addiction Psychiatry Residency Program at the University.

He tells KUOW's Marcie Sillman the reports support alternatives to opioid prescriptions but the addiction crisis is far from solved.

Ricky Garcia and Lauren Davis are fighting to pass Ricky's Law in the Washington State Legislature that would allow involuntary committment for addicts.
Courtesy of Lauren Davis

If someone you love wants to hurt themselves, what can you do? If the underlying cause is mental illness, one option is to have them involuntarily committed for psychiatric treatment. But if the underlying cause is addiction, that was not an option until the passage of Ricky's Law in 2016.

Ricky Garcia and Lauren Davis worked with state lawmakers to pass a bill that would let someone in Washington state involuntarily commit an addict who is found to be a danger to him or herself.  Bill Radke brings Davis back into the studio for an update on the implementation of the law, which took effect Monday. 

Our Take A Number series is looking at problems around the world — and people trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

In Huntington, W.Va., the number is 10. As in, the rate of babies born with a drug dependency there is 10 times the national average.

It's a number that shows the magnitude of the opioid crisis in this blue collar city. It's also one of the numbers that has prompted two very different people in this community to say, "Enough."

How Many Opioid Overdoses Are Suicides?

Mar 15, 2018

Mady Ohlman was 22 on the evening some years ago when she stood in a friend's bathroom looking down at the sink.

"I had set up a bunch of needles filled with heroin because I wanted to just do them back-to-back-to-back," Ohlman recalls. She doesn't remember how many she injected before collapsing, or how long she lay drugged-out on the floor.

"But I remember being pissed because I could still get up, you know?"

She wanted to be dead, she says, glancing down. A wisp of straight brown hair slips from behind an ear across her thin face.

Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe is a University District coffee shop and a source of vegan dishes.
Facebook Photo/Chaco Canyon

Signs of public drug-taking are all over Seattle’s University District.

But an overflowing container of used needles proved too much for one restaurant customer.

The opioid crisis is front and center at the Washington Legislature this week. On Monday, lawmakers heard testimony on three bills aimed at preventing and treating opioid addiction and reducing overdose deaths.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants state lawmakers to declare the opioid epidemic a public health crisis.

On average, two people die each day in Washington from opioid overdoses. That includes deaths from prescription and synthetic opioids, as well as heroin.

The U.S. foster care system is overwhelmed, in part because America's opioid crisis is overwhelming. Thousands of children have had to be taken out of the care of parents or a parent who is addicted.

Indiana is among the states that have seen the largest one-year increase in the number of children who need foster care. Judge Marilyn Moores, who heads the juvenile court in Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, says the health crisis is straining resources in Indiana.

The goal is simple: a drug that can relieve chronic pain without causing addiction.

But achieving that goal has proved difficult, says Edward Bilsky, a pharmacologist who serves as the provost and chief academic officer at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Wash.

"We know a lot more about pain and addiction than we used to," says Bilsky, "But it's been hard to get a practical drug."

It has the power to save lives by targeting opioid overdoses — something that kills more than 140 Americans every day. And now Narcan, the nasal spray that can pull a drug user back from an overdose, is being carried by all of Walgreens' more than 8,000 pharmacies.

KUOW PHOTO/KARA MCDERMOTT

This week, some Seattle-area leaders told Amazon they'd like to hit the refresh button on their relationship with the company. Is Seattle going overboard with the apologizing? And what does Amazon owe Seattle for its success?

There's about 10 feet between Judge Craig Hannah's courtroom bench and the place where a defendant stands to be arraigned here in Buffalo City Court.

But for 26-year-old Caitlyn Stein, it has been a long, arduous 10 feet.

"This is your first day back! Good to see you!" Judge Hannah says as he greets her.

"Good to see you," Stein says, smiling.

"We've got to do that after picture. We did the before," Judge Hannah reminds her.

Oxycodone pills.
Flickr Photo/Be.Futureproof (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/4xcHp9

Washington state’s attorney general and the attorney for the city of Seattle have filed separate lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.

Both the city and the state claim drug companies have contributed to the ongoing opioid and heroin epidemic.  

In Cambridge, Mass., a woman named Kristin sits down on a stone bench to talk about a common but rarely discussed injury that's starting to grow along with the opioid epidemic: rape.

Registered nurse Sammy Mullally holds a tray of supplies to be used by a drug addict at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday May 11, 2011.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck

Bill Radke speaks with Bellevue Mayor John Stokes about why the city is set to ban safe injection sites from the city. King County has said that it will create to sites where drugs users can go and safely use drugs under medical supervision. 

With addiction such a prominent problem, experts say it’s time to use words that don’t carry judgement. Studies show that saying “addiction” instead of “substance abuse,” and “person with substance abuse disorder” instead of “junkie,” affects the treatment patients receive, as well as public policy.

Tacoma's new outdoor shelter is similar to this fabric tent. It will hold private tents, showers and other services for more than 65 residents.
City of Tacoma

Showers, bathrooms, personal storage, outreach and community services will all be available to some 65 residents of a new outdoor shelter in Tacoma that opens in a couple of weeks.


Courtesy of Dylan Rae Metcalfe

Growing up, Dylan Rae Metcalfe could do whatever she wanted.  

“My mom let me do all kinds of sideways shit,” she said. “Like, if I wanted to smoke pot or drink or smoke cigarettes or have sex or whatever, my mom allowed it ‘as long as it's happening in the house.’ That was awesome to me.”


KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Mayor Ed Murray drops his reelection bid, clearing the way for a wide-open race for Seattle's next mayor. 

Democrats call for a special prosecutor to investigate President Trump after he fires FBI director James Comey.

Opponents of a proposed safe-injection site for heroin users in King County launch a campaign to ban it before it can happen.

And the Kent School District cancels an international trip over concerns that undocumented students might not be able to participate.

Michael Ryan, 45, is a juvenile judge in Cleveland, Ohio. And like many of the kids who end up in his courtroom, he didn't have an easy childhood.

He adored his mother, he tells his son — also named Michael, 19, at StoryCorps in Cleveland, but she was addicted to heroin.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

photo courtesy of UW Innovative Programs Research Group

Heavy alcohol use and binge drinking are on the rise in the military. And many service members with a problem don’t voluntarily seek treatment.

Research from the University of Washington found that allowing soldiers to assess the impacts of their drinking confidentially can help them cut down.


In 1964, the U.S. surgeon general released a report on the health impacts of smoking, and it shaped the public and government's attitudes toward tobacco for years to come. On Thursday, another surgeon general's report was issued, this time tackling a much broader issue: addiction and the misuse and abuse of chemical substances. The focus isn't just one drug, but all of them.

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