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The International Olympic Committee held an emergency meeting Tuesday but put off a final decision on whether to ban all Russian athletes from the Summer Games that begin in Brazil on Aug. 5.

Though the games are less than three weeks away, the IOC said it would "explore the legal options" and would weigh a collective ban "versus the right to individual justice."

Jevon Lawson wore a diamond pendant with pale green gems mimicing the OxyContin trail from Los Angeles to Washington state.
(US Marshals Service)

Emily Fox talks with Los Angeles Times reporter Harriet Ryan about how an illegal OxyContin ring in Southern California helped spark an opioid epidemic in Snohomish County.

Naloxone Syringe
Flickr Photo/VCU CNS (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/r3Msnd

Heroin addiction has no boundaries. Deaths from overdoses have gone up across Washington state, but in Snohomish County, the rates have gone up more than in King or Pierce Counties.

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Mauricio Fidalgo/Reuters

Residents of Rio de Janeiro’s Maré complex of poor favela neighborhoods were too terrified to walk down the street.

Nighttime police raids and daytime shootouts between police and a drug gang last week killed three civilians, wounded two officers and kept people shut inside a classroom for hours while bullets whizzed outside.

Eric Seitz used to be homeless, he's now a nurse working to help homeless people in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Bill Radke speaks with Eric Seitz about how he turned his life around. Seitz used to be homeless and addicted to drugs. He's now a nurse, he's housed and he tries to help other people in Seattle experiencing homelessness.

Prescription drug prices continue to climb, putting the pinch on consumers. Some older Americans appear to be seeking an alternative to mainstream medicines that has become easier to get legally in many parts of the country. Just ask Cheech and Chong.

Nika Nellum (right) graduated Wednesday from the rigorous King County Juvenile Drug Court program. The program has drawn national attention. But Nellum gave her mother most of the credit.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It’s graduation week at the King County Juvenile Drug Court. Four teenagers made it through a tough program that’s drawn attention from around the nation. Instead of incarceration, they got help.


Track and field's world governing body has unanimously decided to bar Russian athletes from competing in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro amid allegations of state-sponsored doping.

The International Association of Athletics Federations made the announcement at a press conference Friday in Vienna.

"Because the system in Russia has been tainted by doping from top level and down, we cannot trust that what we call and what people might call clean athletes really are clean," said Rune Andersen, head of the task force that provided recommendations to the IAAF.

Tennis champion Maria Sharapova wasn't breaking any rules when she took her first dose of meldonium a decade ago.

But her continued use of the heart medication after the World Anti-Doping Agency banned it on Jan. 1 prompted the International Tennis Federation to announce last Wednesday that Sharapova would be suspended for two years. She appealed the suspension Tuesday, and a decision is expected by July 18.

Caleb Banta-Green is a UW professor and a member of the King County heroin and prescription opiate task force.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Bill Radke speaks with Caleb Banta-Green, an opiate addiction expert and a member of the King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Task Force. Banta-Green wants to see access to medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction expanded. He says stigma attached to that kind of treatment is a barrier. 

The first time Ray Tamasi got hit up by an investor, it was kind of out of the blue.

"This guy called me up," says Tamasi, president of Gosnold on Cape Cod, an addiction treatment center with seven sites in Massachusetts.

"The guy" represented a group of investors; Tamasi declines to say whom. But they were looking to buy addiction treatment centers like Gosnold.

Zunika Crenshaw cringes as a tire swing whips her children around in circles just a little too fast. It's a sunny afternoon in the park, in Pleasanton, Calif. As her children play, she keeps a close watch on their breathing.

She says asthma is in her genes.

"You have a family, a person who has four kids, and all of them have it, including me," she says. "And then my mom has it, and my sister's two kids."

A little girl, 3-year-old Jhase, runs over to her, wheezing. Crenshaw grabs an inhaler, and her daughter breathes deeply from it.

FLICKR PHOTO/M (CC BY-NC-ND)

Seattle-area public health officials are warning cocaine users about two recent deaths believed to have been caused by a tainted batch of cocaine.


Kevin Boggs is a patient at one of three methadone clinics in Seattle. He moved into the Jungle last winter, which makes it easier to show up for his daily treatment.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Kevin Boggs moved to Seattle to pursue his glass blowing dreams, but today he stands in line at a methadone clinic.


(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.

Naloxone Syringe
Flickr Photo/VCU CNS (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/r3Msnd

Bike cops in Seattle are now armed with a tool that could save people from dying of a heroin overdose. Officers in three areas of the city will carry naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.

Seattle Police spokesperson Sean Whitcomb said officers respond to about 100 overdoses a month. He said bike cops are well positioned to get to the calls quickly.

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