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A Superbug That Resisted 26 Antibiotics

7 hours ago

"People keep asking me, how close are we to going off the cliff," says Dr. James Johnson, professor of infectious diseases medicine at the University of Minnesota. The cliffside free fall he is talking about is the day that drug-resistant bacteria will be able to outfox the world's entire arsenal of antibiotics. Common infections would then become untreatable.

Before Luke Whitbeck began taking a $300,000-a-year drug, the 2-year-old's health was inexplicably failing.

A pale boy with enormous eyes, Luke frequently ran high fevers, tired easily and was skinny all over, except his belly stuck out like a bowling ball.

"What does your medicine do for you?" Luke's mother, Meg, asked after his weekly drug treatment recently.

When people turn in their used needles at the Needle Exchange, they get fresh supplies to prevent the spread of HIV and other blood-borne infections.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Seattle police officers are warning heroin users about dangerous purity levels after four people overdosed on Saturday. Three of the overdoses were fatal.

The Seattle Police Department believes the victims may have bought heroin from the same person. All overdoses occurred within hours of each other and in a similar geographic area.

Policing and homeless services are high profile items in Seattle's proposed budget. A program that helps drug users touches on both. Now, the fate of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program is stirring up debate.

Through LEAD, police connect low level drug and prostitution suspects to community services, instead of arresting them.

The scariest thing about heroin? 'You're gonna love it'

Oct 19, 2016
Alyssa Gaudinier started using heroin when she was 14. She’s now 20 and works as a daycare teacher. Here she is before and after she got clean.
Courtesy of Alyssa Gaudinier

When she was 10 years old, Alyssa Gaudinier found the spot where her parents hid the alcohol. The moment it touched her lips, she was addicted to that escape.


Kratom Gets Reprieve From Drug Enforcement Administration

Oct 12, 2016

It's been a wild ride for kratom lately.

America has a long and storied history with marijuana. Once grown by American colonists to make hemp rope, by 1970, it was classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Possession of it was — and is — a federal crime, despite the fact that in recent years 25 states have legalized medical marijuana and four states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

Two often-overlooked medications might help millions of Americans who abuse alcohol to quit drinking or cut back.

Public health officials, building on a push to treat people who abuse opioids with medications, want physicians to consider using medications to treat alcohol addiction. The drugs can be used in addition to or sometimes in place of peer-support programs, they say.

Many people struggling with opioid addiction can't find a doctor to provide medication-assisted treatment, even though it's highly effective. One reason could be that doctors who are qualified to prescribe the medication typically treat just a handful of patients.

Shilo Murphy holds drug paraphernalia that his needle exchange supplies to users on an alley off the Ave.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Kim Malcolm talks with Caleb Banta-Green, an opiate addiction expert and a member of the King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Taskforce, about Seattle possibly becoming the first U.S. city to create a safe-consumption site for heroin users.


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

Now that a task force to address King County’s heroin epidemic has unveiled its recommendations, the hard work begins. 

Some of the strategies in the report are already in motion, like making naloxone, a drug that prevents overdoses, readily available.

Kratom Advocates Speak Out Against Proposed Government Ban

Sep 12, 2016

Kratom is made from the leaves of a small tree native to Southeast Asia that is a relative of the coffee plant. According to David Kroll, a pharmacologist and medical writer, farmers and indigenous people have used it for hundreds of years as both a stimulant to increase work output and also at the end of the day as a way to relax.

The leaves are often brewed like a tea, or crushed and mixed with water. In the U.S., kratom has become popular among people coping with chronic pain and others trying to wean themselves off opioids or alcohol.

Karisa Rowland is one of them.

A task force to address King County’s heroin epidemic will release recommendations this week that could include a safe consumption site for people who use drugs.

The group will make another recommendation: creating a buprenorphine program at the site of Seattle’s Needle Exchange program.

Treatment for life-threatening allergic reactions is about to get a little cheaper.

Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, said Monday that it will launch a generic version of the device for half the price of the brand-name product.

Federal data suggest illegally manufactured fentanyl, a drug that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, is behind an increase in synthetic opioid deaths.

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