drugs

The latest numbers show that deaths from heroin-related overdose more than tripled nationally between 2002 and 2013. Opiate addiction touches every demographic: white, black, Hispanic, rural, suburban and urban.

Proposed solutions nationally include more government funding for treatment, tougher penalties for dealers, and proactive interventions to stop people before they start.

About 120 people a day are dying from unintentional drug overdoses, according the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

An increase in prescriptions for painkillers, like Oxycontin, is one reason. Another is that when opioids aren’t available, people often turn to heroin because it is cheaper, stronger any easier to obtain these days.

The problem appears worse in some communities, but it’s not often clear why.

Shilo Murphy at the People's Harm Reduction Alliance in Seattle's University District.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

The day Shilo Murphy found his friend dead from an overdose, he resolved to change his life.

He wouldn’t quit drugs. He liked how heroin made him feel. But he wanted to improve the lives of drug users.

"My experience of having a close friend die was that I wasn't going to take it anymore,” Murphy told KUOW’s Ross Reynolds. “It being the conditions we lived under, the discrimination we felt, the constant violence towards us.”

Boats crowd Lake Washington during a past Seafair weekend.
Flickr Photo/missyleone (CC BY 2.0)

David Hyde speaks with Beth Ebel, a professor of pediatrics and a doctor with the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, about the culture around drinking and boating and how we can change it. 

Jennifer Nugent and her three kids are throwing a big, blue ball around in the small living room of their rental home.

The kids are happy, but Nugent isn't. She planned to raise them in a place with much more room to play.

And she was. That is, until she learned that home was uninhabitable.

Two years ago, she and her husband bought a country home in the small central Indiana town of Mooresville.

"It was blue and it had a lot of potential for us to add on," she says. "We really, really wanted that house."

Marcie Sillman talks with Jeremy Bradford, an early participant in Seattle's Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program, about his journey from a homeless addict to a small business owner.

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Marcie Sillman talks with University of Washington pain specialist Jane Ballantyne about evolving attitudes towards prescription opiates. 

King County Heroin Deaths Up 58 Percent In 2014

Jun 18, 2015
Found in Seattle's Belltown area in 2008.
Flickr photo/Elan Ruskin (CC BY-NC 2.0)

A spike in deaths from heroin use in King County has alarmed health experts and prompted warnings that the trend will continue unless efforts to treat addiction are ramped up.

The report on drug trends from the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute says 156 people died with heroin in their systems in 2014, a 58 percent increase over the year before.

Christopher Takata is eager to get these vestiges of his addictions erased.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

A lot of teenagers smoke weed. But they don’t all love it enough to get W-E-E-D tattooed across their knuckles.

"I was just a pothead, basically, obsessed with getting high. That’s all I would think about," said 18-year-old Christopher Takata, who last week became the first graduate of Seattle Public Schools' new Recovery School, for students who have been through drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs.

Lee Townsend with the Metroplitan Improvement District checks his "hotspots" in Belltown for litter...and worse.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Over the past year, street sweepers in downtown Seattle saw a dramatic increase in the number of syringes on the ground. But those numbers have declined since March. They’re a data point in the larger debate over policing and drug use downtown.

Flickr Photo/torbakhopper (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Shilo Murphy, executive director of the People's Harm Reduction Alliance, about their new initiative to hand out free meth pipes.

Ross Reynolds speaks with Bruce Barcott, author of "Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America."

Barcott began working on the book as a self-described pot agnostic. He said his 16-year-old daughter found it hilarious that her square dad was writing a book about pot.

Barcott was concerned about how legal marijuana would affect his children. But after looking into it he said he's proud of Washington for taking the step to legalize it. He thinks the legalization effort will only grow in coming years.

Marcie Sillman gets Nancy Pearl's opinion on "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic," by journalist Sam Quinones. The book talks about the new generation of heroin addicts: they're young, white, relatively well-off, and they buy their fix the same way they order a pizza.

Heroin drugs seized by the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan.
Flickr Photo/UK Ministry of Defence

Marcie Sillman talks to journalist Sam Quinones about his book "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic." 

William Shatner.
Flickr Photo/Brian Wilkins (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Why is William Shatner coming for our water? Does Seattle need rent control? Can a new policing plan tackle drug dealing downtown? Is tipping on the way out?

David Hyde sits in for Bill Radke to review the week’s news along with Crosscut’s Knute Berger, 'The C is For Crank' blogger Erica C. Barnett and former Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna.

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