addiction recovery

The opioid addiction crisis is getting worse, and it's often reported on in desperate terms. But to the people working on the front lines of the problem, there are known and proven approaches that can help. This series introduces you to these people and how they're tackling the issue in their communities — with hope, compassion and strength.

First, Do No Harm

Christine Herman

In Cambridge, Mass., a woman named Kristin sits down on a stone bench to talk about a common but rarely discussed injury that's starting to grow along with the opioid epidemic: rape.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

Deana Kilpatrick smoked crack for the first time when she was 13 years old. “From there,” she says, “I really just spiraled down hill.”

For the next 30 years, drugs and alcohol were part of her life. Then last November, at the age of 43, she moved to Branson, Missouri looking for a new start. It was going pretty well until loneliness drove her to relapse a few months ago. She got a fourth DWI and faced up to four years in jail.

Amid Opioid Epidemic, More Schools Offer 'Sober Dorms'

Jun 23, 2016
A drinking game.
Dave Stangl Jr via Wikimedia Commons

Ryan had a pattern: He’d enroll in college with the best of intentions, start drinking and drugging, then drop out. Three years ago, as he prepared to enroll at the University of Miami, his fifth school, he had what he called a “white light moment.”

“I realized there was absolutely no way I’m going to stay sober,” he recalled.

So Ryan decided to try something different. He enrolled at Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey, and moved into the Recovery House, a special dorm that offers “substance-free” housing and activities for students in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.

  Orlando commissioners narrowly approved a measure to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana Tuesday. First time offenders will have to pay a $100 fine if found with less than 20 grams of the drug. The penalty will increase to $200 for second and third time offenders will have a mandatory court appearance. They will also have the choice of going to a substance recovery program.

Does Addiction Treatment Require A Higher Power?

May 3, 2016

In the field of addiction treatment, already brimming with intensely personal and emotional debates, there may be nothing more controversial than the role of 12-step programs, which are based on Alcoholics Anonymous.

At least 80 percent of current American addiction treatment— for both alcohol and other drugs — is based on teaching patients the ideology of the steps and persuading them to become members and attend meetings for the rest of their lives.

Courtesy University at Buffalo

Primary care doctors and medical students will now be able to gain accreditation as addiction medicine specialists. The American Board of Medical Specialties announced this week its approval of a new medical subspecialty intended to increase the number of physicians qualified to help patients with addiction.

One person leading the push to create the specialty was Richard D. Blondell, professor of family medicine at the University at Buffalo in New York and an expert in addiction medicine. Over the last several years, he worked with the American Board of Addiction Medicine to establish standards and an accreditation process for new training programs in dozens of medical schools around the country. Now, graduates of these programs will be able to be certified in the subspecialty. The new certification means doctors in the field have been trained and tested at consistent high standards recognized by their peers.

Side Effects’ Michelle Faust spoke with him about his efforts to build a workforce of physicians trained to work with substance use disorders.

Medicaid May Soon Pay For Some Inpatient Addiction Treatment

Jan 8, 2016

For decades, if people on Medicaid wanted to get treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, they almost always had to rely solely on money from state and local sources.

Gaining Coping Skills, Losing A Friend, Helped Jennifer Overcome Heroin

Dec 23, 2015
Jennifer Burke and dog Maggie.
submitted photo

From Prescription To Addiction

Jennifer Burke’s addiction story began with prescriptions for pain medication. She was born with a rare birth defect that multiple tumors throughout her body. The tumors, called hamartomas, weren’t cancerous, but they caused her persistent pain. At age 15, about a year after giving birth to a baby girl, she Jennifer had a tumor the size of a softball removed from one of her legs. For the next eight years, she had surgery after surgery.

Police Turn To Pricey Rehab Drug For Offenders

Nov 4, 2015
Miles Bryan

Cameron Largent, 26,  lives with his mother in a big suburban house in Rock Springs, Wyoming. His favorite spot at home is the basement couch, where he’s set up to play the fantasy video game World of Warcraft. 

“I’m a priest,” he said. “So my job is to run around and heal people. [My character] is the highest level you can get: level 100.”

Largent has had a lot of time to level up recently: he has been sober for six months. It’s the longest he has gone without drinking for years.