drugs

(This post was last updated at 4:20 p.m. ET.)

The iconoclast musician Prince died of a drug overdose, the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Ramsey, Minn., has found.

In a report released publicly on Thursday, the medical examiner said Prince Rogers Nelson self-administered a deadly dose of the synthetic opiate fentanyl by accident.

Dr. James Gill walked through the morgue in Farmington, Conn., recently, past the dock where the bodies come in, past the tissue donations area, and stopped outside the autopsy room.

"We kind of have a typical board listing all of the decedents for the day," Gill said, pointing to the list of names on a dry-erase board. "Overdose, overdose, overdose, overdose, overdose. That's just for today."

Kim Malcolm speaks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about Fentanyl, an opiate claiming lives in British Columbia. Overdoses from this drug are on the rise and health officials are trying to educate the public. 

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

Courtney Griffin was addicted to heroin and ready to get help. She packed up her things, and her mom drove her to a residential treatment facility about an hour from their home in New Hampshire. There was a bed waiting for her.

Two days after drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán was transferred to a prison near Juárez, a Mexican city near the U.S. border, a federal judge in Mexico said the extradition process can move forward.

An unnamed judge said the "legal requirements laid out in the extradition treaty" between the U.S. and Mexico had been met, The Associated Press reports, adding that Mexico's foreign ministry has 20 days to approve the extradition.

At a recent gathering, supporters of a safe site for drug users tied a ribbon to remember people who've been personally affected by substance abuse.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

It’s been more than a month since a task force was formed to address King County’s heroin epidemic.

One solution that’s under discussion is creating a safe site for people to use drugs under medical supervision. The idea is unconventional and controversial, but supporters like Patricia Sully say previous approaches haven’t worked.  

At one time, Thea Oliphant-Wells was a client at the needle exchange program. Today, she's a social worker connecting people to services they need to find their way out of addiction.  `
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Heroin deaths have reached a record number in King County. More than 150 people died of overdoses in 2014.

One woman could’ve been part of that statistic. Ten years ago, Thea Oliphant-Wells was homeless and addicted to heroin. 

Some users of LSD say one of the most profound parts of the experience is a deep oneness with the universe. The hallucinogenic drug might be causing this by blurring boundaries in the brain, too.

'Week in Review" panel Paul Guppy, Bill Radke, Maud Daudon and Sydney Brownstone.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Advertising is coming to an outdoors near you, can commercialism save our state parks? Also, should Seattle give heroin users a safe place to inject? And, should we give over a Sodo street for a basketball arena?

Bill Radke runs the the fast break with The Stranger’s Sydney Brownstone, Washington Policy Center’s Paul Guppy and Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce CEO Maud Daudon.

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

Seattle leaders want the city to have more disposal sites for drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin.

The City Council passed a resolution Monday that asks pharmacies and the Seattle Police Department to install drug disposal boxes.

Oregon’s water is tested for suspended solids, certain chemicals and heavy metals — but not for pharmaceuticals.

With prescription drug use on the rise unused meds too often end up in the landfill or flushed down the toilet. In Oregon, Lane County agencies are stepping up their message of what to do with unwanted drugs.

Sarah Grimm, the waste reduction specialist for Lane County Public Works, said she's seeing a problem in her industry: pharmaceutical meds being flushed down the toilet.

How do you fix a problem if you don't know its size?

Many states — including some that have been hardest hit by the opioid crisis — don't know how many of their youngest residents each year are born physically dependent on those drugs. They rely on estimates.

Pennsylvania is one of those states. Ted Dallas, head of Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services, calls the information he's working with "reasonably good."

Opioids are becoming the latest serious addiction problem in this country. Among these drugs manufactured from opium, heroin is the most serious, dangerous, cheap and available everywhere.

In April's edition of Harper's Magazine, Dan Baum has examined a new response to this latest addiction problem: the legalization of drugs.

Carolyn Rossi has been a registered nurse for 27 years, and she's been fiercely protective of infants in her intensive care unit — babies born too soon, babies born with physical and cognitive abnormalities and, increasingly, babies born dependent on opioids.

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