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heroin

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.


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. 

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.

By the time Elvis Rosado was 25, he was addicted to opioids and serving time in jail for selling drugs to support his habit.

"I was like, 'I have to kick this, I have to break this,' " he says.

For Rosado, who lives in Philadelphia, drugs had become a way to disassociate from "the reality that was life." He'd wake up physically needing the drugs to function.

His decision to finally stop using propelled him into another challenging chapter of his addiction and one of the most intense physical and mental experiences he could have imagined: detoxing.

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

Safe injection sites in King County will be located only cities that welcome them. That's the upshot of a vote by the King County Council this week.


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

It's official: Seattle plans to be the first city in the United States to open a site for users to inject illegal drugs – without police intervention.

Bill Radke talks to state Senator Mark Miloscia and Kris Nyrop of the Public Defender Association. Senator Miloscia has introduced legislation that would effectively ban safe consumption sites in King County. He argues that a focus on abstinence is the way to curb drug use. Nyrop is a harm reduction specialist who says that focusing on safer, more realistic solutions is how to deal with the epidemic. 

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

Supervised drug consumption sites have the approval of King County's Board of Health. On Thursday, the board unanimously endorsed the idea, after a task force on heroin recommended it last year.

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.

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

Oct 19, 2016
Alyssa started using heroin when she was 14. She’s now 20 and works as a daycare teacher.
Flickr photo / B.A.D. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bradadozier/

When she was 10 years old, Alyssa found the spot where her parents hid the alcohol. The moment it touched her lips, she was addicted to that escape. (Her last name is being withheld to protect her privacy).


'Week in Review' panel Josh Feit, Sarah Stuteville, Joni Balter and Bill Radke.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Are liberal lobbyists writing Seattle's laws? Should Washington put a carbon tax on fossil fuels? And what can Vancouver, B.C. teach Seattle about safe injection sites for drug users?

We'll talk about these stories and more on KUOW's Week in Review. Listen to the live discussion Fridays at noon and follow the online discussion @KUOW and #KUOWwir. 

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.

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.

Jesse Calliham, left, Bud McCurry, center, and Lauren Rainbow are part of Snohomish County's Office of Neighborhoods. The unit's sole focus is working with homeless people who use heroin. Click on this image for more photos.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Deputy Bud McCurry sets up his laptop in the patrol car. He's heading into a wooded area in South Everett where homeless heroin users have been camping out.

Two social workers are with him – Jesse Calliham and Lauren Rainbow. They discuss a woman named Shelly, who has six kittens and is on the verge of agreeing to detox. 


In a big hotel conference room near New York's Times Square, six doctors huddle around a greasy piece of raw pork. They watch as addiction medicine specialist Michael Frost delicately marks the meat, incises it and implants four match-sized rods.

"If you can do it well on the pork, you can easily do it on the person," Frost tells his audience.

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.

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.


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.

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. 

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.

The 12-seat injection room in InSite in Vancouver, B.C. Participants at the clinic inject drugs under the supervision of trained staff and nurses.
Courtesy InSite

The rise in heroin use in Washington has pushed a new idea to the forefront: legal injection sites for drug users.

Monday, a City Council committee will take a look at one model that has worked.