drugs | KUOW News and Information

drugs

Oysters, mussels and clams are shown on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, at City Fish Co. at Pike Place Market in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

If you take legal or illegal drugs, or even flush them down the toilet unused, there's a good chance they'll wind up in Puget Sound.

Now there may be evidence that the opioid crisis reaches underwater, too. Scientists have found traces of oxycodone in shellfish near Bremerton and in Seattle's Elliott Bay.

Seattle Mariners play at the Baltimore Orioles in 2013.
Flickr Photo/Keith Allison (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/foiSpC

Bill Radke talks to Tim Elfrink, managing editor of the Miami New Times, about performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in baseball, after Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended for half a season for violating the MLB's drug policy. Elfrink broke the story of baseball's last big steroid scandal -- a South Florida wellness clinic that was supplying human growth hormone to major leaguers.

Courtesy of Kellie Sevier

Last month, 27-year-old Sabrina Tate died in Seattle. She was living in an RV in a city-sanctioned safe lot in the SODO neighborhood.

For years, Sabrina had been homeless and addicted to heroin. The cause of her death isn't fully known yet, but she had developed an infection in her legs from years of drug use. 

A few months ago, Kourtnaye Sturgeon helped save someone's life. She was driving in downtown Indianapolis when she saw people gathered around a car on the side of the road. Sturgeon pulled over and a man told her there was nothing she could do: Two men had overdosed on opioids and appeared to be dead.

"I kind of recall saying, 'No man, I've got Narcan,' " she says, referring to the brand- name version of the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone. "Which sounds so silly, but I'm pretty sure that's what came out."

To the untrained, the evidence looks promising for a new medical device to ease opioid withdrawal. A small study shows that people feel better when the device, an electronic nerve stimulator called the Bridge, is placed behind their ear.

The company that markets the Bridge is using the study results to promote its use to anyone who will listen: policymakers, criminal justice officials and health care providers.

The message is working.

Senator Patty Murray in the KUOW offices, Jan. 2016.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Kim Malcolm talks with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) about a bill she's co-sponsoring that aims to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Murray said the bill would increase access to mental health services and to treatment programs in underserved areas.

She also said the bill would encourage the development of non-addictive painkillers and step up efforts to detect and seize drugs like fentanyl.

This photo was posted to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office Facebook page earlier in the week.
Pierce County Sheriff's Office Facebook page

In the photo above — posted by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook and Twitter this week – a man sits on the ground after being Tased by police. He wears nothing but black underwear briefs and a rosary around his neck. His small dog looks up at the camera.

A wild Pacific salmon, left, next to an escaped farm-raised Atlantic salmon, right, on Aug. 22 at Home Port Seafoods in Bellingham.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Kim Malcolm talks with Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes about a new study that looks at the impact of drugs picked up by juvenile Chinook salmon in Puget Sound.

The U.S. Surgeon General wants more Americans to carry the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

So how do you get it?

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. 

Writer Stephanie Wittels Wachs got a phone call from her loving and accomplished brother Harris just three days before her wedding, in which he shared some surprising news.

What was it? "He told me he was a drug addict," Wachs says. He died two years later, of an overdose. Harris Wittels was a hilarious and respected Hollywood comic writer, who had become co-executive producer of NBC's Parks and Recreation by the time he was 30, and worked on award-winning shows like Master of None.

The opioid epidemic has hit Huntington, W.Va., very hard, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average.

Documentary filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon chose Huntington as the setting for her short doc about America's opioid crisis, Heroin(e). It's now nominated for an Oscar.

Legal marijuana sales exceeded $1.3 billion in Washington state in fiscal year 2017.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

People with pot possession records in Seattle may be about to catch a break. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes announced today a plan to ask the city's municipal court to drop charges and vacate convictions for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Flickr Photo/torbakhopper (CC-BY-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/nHEVtP

Kim Malcolm talks with University of Washington researcher Caleb Banta-Green about why methamphetamine use is on the rise in Washington state.

Pot products are seen inside The Green Door marijuana shop on Rainier Avenue South in Seattle on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018.
KUOW photo/Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

On a busy stretch of Rainier Avenue South in Seattle, next to a taco truck, a dry cleaners and a gas station is The Green Door. A large road-side sign touts it as “Seattle’s favorite cannabis shop.”

Inside on Thursday, it was tense. “Very nerve-wracking,” said manager Mark Larsson. 


In the living room of her Olympia home, Crystal opens up a large file box that contains her son’s life history.

“As a mom you keep those shot records and those test scores in their little file even if they’re in their 20s,” said Crystal, whose last name we’re not using to protect her son's identity.

But this plastic box has something else: a detailed record of her son’s battle with addiction and mental illness beginning when he was 12.

In 2008, Christopher Poulos went to federal prison for dealing cocaine in his home state of Maine. Today, he’s a licensed lawyer who’s been hired to lead Washington’s effort to help prison inmates transition back into society.

California Gov. Jerry Brown defied the drug industry Monday, signing the most comprehensive drug price transparency bill in the nation that will force drug makers to publicly justify big price hikes.

"Californians have a right to know why their medical costs are out of control, especially when pharmaceutical profits are soaring," Brown says. "This measure is a step at bringing transparency, truth, exposure to a very important part of our lives, that is the cost of prescription drugs."

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.  

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

Bill Radke speaks with author and journalist Sam Quinones about why Washington state and the city of Seattle have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and other opioid producers. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he's suing because Purdue lead a deceptive marketing campaign to promote their drugs and mislead doctors on the risk of pain killers.

Linda Hargrove discusses using Suboxone with her doctor Grant Scull during an appointment.
KUOW Photo/Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Linda Hargrove takes white Suboxone tablets daily, dissolving them in her mouth. She’s used to the taste: chalky, not real bitter. Still, Hargrove sips juice from a straw to wash it down. 

KUOW PHOTOS/MEGAN FARMER

Bill Radke talks to Turina James who supports safe consumption sites and Corri Durrant who opposes them about how drug abuse has affected their lives and informed their position on King County's proposal to open two safe consumption sites.  

Sharon Larcey and her boyfriend live in their vehicle. Sharon said many of her friends would benefit from a supervised drug site.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

At a King County council meeting earlier this month, Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles sought to allay fears about supervised drug consumption sites being imposed on unwilling neighborhoods.


Courtesy of Andrew Bannecker

Does anyone not know Nancy Pearl?

For years she’s told NPR and KUOW listeners what to read with a kind of care and insight that’s made her a household name. There’s also a decent chance her action figure is on your desk or bookshelf right now. 

President Trump says he is ready to declare the nation's opioid crisis "a national emergency," saying it is a "serious problem the likes of which we have never had." Speaking to reporters at the entrance to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, where he is on a working vacation, Trump promised "to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."

In Prince George's County, Md., every first responder carries naloxone, the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.

"We carry it in our first-in bags," says Bryan Spies, the county's battalion chief in charge of emergency services. "So whenever we arrive at a patient's side, it's in the bag, along with things like glucose, aspirin and oxygen."

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. 

Safe injection sites in King County would be stocked with naloxone, a drug used to treat narcotic overdoses in an emergency
Flickr Photo/Jeff Anderson (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/QDVuAb

Bellevue could become one of the first places in King County to impose a ban on supervised injection sites for drug 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

Plans to open safe consumption sites for drug users in King County may soon be subject to a public vote. 

Opponents say they've collected nearly 70,000 signatures, more than enough to get an initiative banning such sites on the ballot.

Bill Radke speaks with Republican state Representative Morgan Irwin and former police chief Norm Stamper about safe injection sites. An initiative may be on the ballot this fall to ban safe injection sites in King County.

Pages