drugs

Herat is one of the most graceful cities in Afghanistan. Its traditions go back to the Persian empire, with its exquisite blue and green glass, and its thriving poetry scene.

Now Herat is struggling with a darker side: drug addiction at a higher rate than almost anywhere else in the country.

In a dusty ravine on the outskirts of the city, Ahmad, a scruffy 20-year-old, is striking a match to inhale heroin.

It's a simple act he repeats throughout his day — heating a dark slab of heroin paste smeared on a bit of foil so he can smoke it.

The Food and Drug Administration is trying to decide whether to approve a powerful new prescription painkiller that's designed to relieve severe pain quickly, and with fewer side effects than other opioids.

While some pain experts say the medicine could provide a valuable alternative for some patients in intense pain, the drug (called Moxduo) is also prompting concern that it could exacerbate the epidemic of abuse of prescription painkillers and overdoses.

Young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week showed changes in the size and shape of two key brain regions, according to a new study of 20 pot smokers and 20 non-pot smokers between 18 and 25.

This is the first time recreational marijuana use has been connected to significant brain changes.

The findings, a collaboration between Northwestern University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, were published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Since its founding in the 1930s, Alcoholics Anonymous has become part of the fabric of American society. AA and the many 12-step groups it inspired have become the country's go-to solution for addiction in all of its forms. These recovery programs are mandated by drug courts, prescribed by doctors and widely praised by reformed addicts.

Flickr Photo/Kaushik Narasimhan (CC BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with Linda Grant, CEO of Evergreen Manor, about potential funding cuts to drug treatment programs for low-income patients in Washington state. Evergreen Manor is a non-profit drug and alcohol treatment center in Everett.

Some of the nation's largest pharmaceutical companies have dramatically reduced payments to health professionals for promotional speeches amid heightened public scrutiny of such spending, a ProPublica analysis shows.

Eli Lilly & Co.'s payments to speakers dropped by 55 percent, from $47.9 million in 2011 to $21.6 million in 2012.

Pfizer's speaking payments fell 62 percent over the same period, from nearly $22 million to $8.3 million.

How Needle Exchange Programs Work

Feb 26, 2014
Flickr Photo/deepfruit (CC BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with Michael Hanrahan who oversees the needle exchange programs for the King County's Health and Human Services. Hanrahan talks about how these exchanges work and the impact the program has made in the community.

Flickr Photo/Erin DeMay (CC BY-NC-ND)

From Seattle’s South Lake Union to larger areas like Bothell, biotechnology is a ubiquitous part of the local economy. But moving a drug from research to testing, to market, to patients is an arduous undertaking.

Washington's Take On Overdose Antidote Naloxone

Feb 18, 2014
Flickr Photo/M (CC BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with KUOW's Patricia Murphy about a pharmacy on Capitol Hill that is offering training around an opiate overdose medication called Naloxone.

Seattle police patrol cars.
Flickr Photo/Brittney Bollay

Marcie Sillman talks with Bill Hobson, executive director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center, about the Seattle Police Department's new policy for dealing with people who have mental illnesses or drug and alcohol issues. Hobson is also a member of Seattle's Community Police Commission.

Flickr Photo/Greg McMullin

This week the state Department of Health reported that prescription drug overdose deaths are down 27 percent since 2008. But curbing fraud and abuse of powerful opiates has come at a price for some legitimate patients who say they’re suffering unnecessary pain due to delays at pharmacies. 

Neuroscientist: 'Decriminalize All Drugs'

Jan 22, 2014
Dr. Carl Hart's book "High Price."

David Hyde speaks with Dr. Carl Hart, a professor at Columbia University, about why he thinks all drugs — including cocaine and heroin — should be decriminalized. His latest book is called "High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society."

Schools that do random drug testing say it helps students say no to illegal drugs, while critics say it's an invasion of privacy. But feeling good about school may affect students' drug use more than the threat of testing.

A survey of high school students found that the possibility that they might face drug testing didn't really discourage students from alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana. But students who thought their school had a positive environment were less apt to try cigarettes and pot.

Flickr Photo/Crashworks

Marcie Sillman talks with Caleb Banta-Green, an addiction and drug expert from the University of Washington,  about heroin trends across Washington state.

Sugar pills in a case
Flickr Photo/pig pog s

David Hyde talks with Natalie Mizik, University of Washington marketing professor, about how successful big pharmaceuticals are at marketing their products.

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