addiction

A South Carolina woman has reached the Florida Keys, completing a 2,575-mile (4,144-kilometer) walk to give attention to the opioid overdose crisis.

WMFE

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday received a bill that would authorize needle-exchange programs across the state. 

Two key ingredients came together for Shannon McCarty to get off drugs in late 2017: connections and timing.

"The police showed up because they said they got a call that we were shooting up in the car," Shannon said.

Everett police officer, Inci Yarkut walked up to window of the car where Shannon was living.

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Robin Wallace thought her years of working as a counselor in addiction treatment gave her a decent understanding of the system. She has worked in private and state programs in Massachusetts and with people who were involuntarily committed to treatment.

So in 2017, as her 33-year-old son, Sean Wallace, continued to struggle with heroin use — after years of coping with mental health issues and substance use — she thought she was making the right choice in forcing him into treatment.

A pharmacist in Celina, Tenn., was one of 60 people indicted on charges of opioid-related crimes this week, in a multistate sting. John Polston was charged with 21 counts of filling medically unnecessary narcotic prescriptions.

He was also Gail Gray's pharmacist and the person she relied on to regularly fill her opioid prescriptions.

The 2019 legislative session begins Tuesday. Over 60 days, lawmakers will tackle the states’ biggest issues, including school safety, education and health care.

Growing up, neuroscientist Judith Grisel would take little sips of alcohol at family events, but it wasn't until she was 13 that she experienced being drunk for the first time. Everything changed.

"It was so complete and so profound," she says. "I suddenly felt less anxious, less insecure, less inept to cope with the world. Suddenly I was full and OK in a way that I had never been."

Grisel began chasing that feeling. Over the years, she struggled with alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. But along the way, she also became interested in the neuroscience of addiction.

Rural Americans are preoccupied with the problems of opioid and drug addiction in their communities, citing it as a worry on par with concerns about local jobs and the economy, according to a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Enrique Martinez was dripping water when he walked into Fifth Street Counseling Center, in Plantation, on a Tuesday evening last July.  

Operation PAR

The state’s invalidated process for licensing new methadone clinics is delaying help for opioid addicts in rural communities.

Jake Harper/Side Effects Public Media

In a refrigerator in the coroner’s office in Marion County, Ind., rows of vials await testing. They contain blood, urine and vitreous, the fluid collected from inside a human eye.

After three decades, the United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse is changing its name to reflect a more holistic view of its mission.

At a 30th anniversary celebration in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, the group announced it is rebranding itself as the United Way Commission on Behavioral Health & Drug Prevention.

Needle Exchange Program Passes Committee

Jan 25, 2018

New legislation expanding a needle-exchange program moved through both the Florida House and Senate today. 

Where alcohol is eschewed in most places of employment, it's a constant in restaurants. And the late night culture means that most socializing happens at bars after work hours. "We're an industry that's a little bit different," says Mickey Bakst, general manager of Charleston Grill in South Carolina. But this also means restaurant employees are at serious risk for problems with substance abuse.

Pharmacy Technician amongst two shelves of prescription pills.
Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

Doctors at some of the largest U.S. hospital chains admit they went overboard with opioids to make people as pain-free as possible, and now they shoulder part of the blame for the nation’s opioid crisis. To be part of the cure, they’ve begun to issue an uncomfortable warning to patients: You’re going to feel some pain.

Seven years ago, Robert Kerley, who makes his living as a truck driver, was loading drywall onto his trailer when a gust of wind knocked him off. He fell 14 feet and hurt his back.

For pain, a series of doctors prescribed him a variety of opioids: Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycontin.

In less than a year, the 45-year-old from Federal Heights, Colo., says he was hooked. "I spent most of my time high, lying on the couch, not doing nothing, sleeping, dozing off, falling asleep everywhere," he says.

More than fifty people gathered at the Leon County Public Library Monday evening to talk about combating the opioid crisis.  The epidemic hasn’t hit Leon as hard as some other counties, but local leaders want to be ready.

As a lifelong racket-sports fanatic, I've dealt with shoulder pain for decades, treating it with bags of frozen peas, physical therapy, cortisone shots and even experimental treatments like platelet-rich plasma. Eventually, however, the soreness prevented me from handling daily-living tasks like pulling a bottle of olive oil off the top shelf of my kitchen or reaching to the back seat of my car to grab my purse. Even low-impact activities such as swimming freestyle hurt a lot. Sleeping also got tougher. After MRI showed two full-thickness rotator-cuff tears, I finally called a surgeon.

For years, doctors have asked people about tobacco use and excessive drinking in the hopes that the answers could help lead people to cut down or quit.

But screening alone isn't usually sufficient to change behavior.

As opioid use hits record highs in the U.S., Christiana Care Health System in Delaware is starting to ask people about opioid use — and then go further.

In November 2016, Christiana Care staff started asking patients during routine visits and in the emergency room questions like these:

Addiction specialists caution against reading too much into a new study released this week that compares two popular medications for opioid addiction. This much-anticipated research is the largest study so far to directly compare the widely used treatment Suboxone with relative newcomer Vivitrol.

Researchers who compared the two drugs found them equally effective once treatment started. But there are fundamental differences in the way treatment begins, which makes these findings difficult to interpret.

Florida Governor Rick Scott’s response to the state’s opioid crisis is taking shape in the House.

Peter Haden / WLRN

The Reflections treatment center looked like just the place for Michelle Holley's youngest daughter to kick heroin. Instead, as with dozens of other Florida substance abuse treatment facilities, the owner was more interested in defrauding insurance companies by keeping addicts hooked, her family says.

Hospices Grapple With Stolen Meds

Aug 22, 2017
Associated Press

Nothing seemed to help the patient — and hospice staff didn’t know why.

It's always appealing to think that there could be an easy technical fix for a complicated and serious problem.

For example, wouldn't it be great to have a vaccine to prevent addiction?

"One of the things they're actually working on is a vaccine for addiction, which is an incredibly exciting prospect," said Dr. Tom Price, secretary of Health and Human Services.

Delray Beach's charming downtown, palm trees and waves attract locals, vacationers and, increasingly, drug users who come here to try to get off opioids. In some parts of the small Florida community, there's a residential program for people recovering from addiction — a sober living house or "sober home" — on nearly every block. Sometimes two or three.

Philip Kirby says he first used heroin during a stint in a halfway house a few years ago, when he was 21 years old. He quickly formed a habit.

"You can't really dabble in it," he says.

Late last year, Kirby was driving with drugs and a syringe in his car when he got pulled over. He went to jail for a few months on a separate charge before entering a drug court program in Hamilton County, Ind., north of Indianapolis. But before Kirby started, he says the court pressured him to get a shot of a drug called Vivitrol.

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

As Health News Florida reported last week, the opioid crisis in Manatee and Sarasota Counties is putting a strain on their foster care system. But the situation isn't entirely bleak. Now we'll hear from one mother whose relationship with her son's foster parents helped her reunify her family and overcome her addiction.


Manatee and Sarasota Counties have seen overdose deaths from drugs like heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil spike in the past few years. At the same time, the number of children being removed from their homes and placed into the area’s foster care system has skyrocketed. There’s a connection between the increases.

Jacksonville City Council passed a bill Tuesday that will put $1.4 million dollars toward a six-month pilot program to help treat opioid addiction.

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