Addiction and Drug Use

Study Shows 40 Million Americans Have Severe Pain

Aug 24, 2015
Andreanna Photography via Flickr/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In one of the largest population studies on pain to date, researchers with the National Institutes of Health estimate that nearly 40 million Americans experience severe pain and more than 25 million have pain every day.

Those with severe pain were more likely to have worse health status, use more health care and suffer from more disability than those with less severe pain.

Seth Herald/Side Effects

This episode of Sick, a new podcast from Side Effects Public Media, tells the story of Kevin Polly, a man who has to leave his town behind in order to save his own life. 

In February, the Indiana State Department of Health announced an HIV outbreak in rural Scott County. Thirty people had tested positive just since December, and most of the cases were linked to injection drug abuse of a potent prescription opioid called Opana. Since then, the number of cases has grown to more than 170.

Criminal justice systems are bearing the brunt of increasing cuts to a psychiatric system that has been slashed since the 1960s. That’s the contention of police and sheriffs who encounter the mentally ill on runs and in jails on a daily basis. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that between 25 and 40 percent of mentally ill Americans will be jailed at some point in their lives. 

Heroin Use Surges, Especially Among Women And Whites

Jul 8, 2015

Health officials, confronted with a shocking increase in heroin abuse, are developing a clearer picture of who is becoming addicted to this drug and why. The results may surprise you.

Seth Herald

Ravaged by one of the worst outbreaks of HIV in recent history and an underlying epidemic of injection drug addiction,  a small rural community is changing fast as it grapples with the fallout of the crisis. In this 4-part series, reporter Jake Harper and photojournalist Seth Herald tell the story of shifting attitudes, new thinking, and signs of recovery.

By Official Navy Page from United States of America MC2 John O'Neill Herrera/U.S. Navy, via Wikimedia Commons / U.S. Navy

A growing number of babies are going through detox in their first few days of life. The rate of admissions to neonatal ICUs for symptoms of drug withdrawal, known as neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS, nearly quadrupled between 2004 and 2013, according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

OxyContin pills grind into a powder for snorting. This photo was taken in 2007. In 2010, Oxycontin was reformulated to make it more difficult to abuse. But a study found Medicare plans are cutting back coverage of OxyContin in favor of cheaper generics.
51fifty at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL , CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/), via Wikimedia Commons

Each year, about 16,000 Americans die from overdosing on prescription painkillers. The epidemic of prescription opioid addiction touches seniors along with other age groups. But Medicare drug plans are cutting back on coverage for a specially designated type of painkiller that deters abuse in favor of cheaper generics that don’t have the same deterrent qualities, a new study found.

Kimberley Enyart was never interested in doing recreational drugs. But then she was in a car accident — and her doctor prescribed a powerful opiate for the pain.

"It just would put me off in la-la land, and make me feel better," she says. "I loved it. I loved that high."

When Enyart's prescription ran out, she did whatever she could to convince other doctors that she needed more. Eventually, she moved on to dentists.

"I even had two back teeth pulled over it," she says.

Andrew Chambers is one of five addiction psychologists in the state of Indiana.
Andrew Chambers

Containing the nation’s growing heroin addiction and ongoing prescription opioid abuse epidemic, is often presented as a law enforcement problem. But behavioral health specialists say the addiction treatment side of the equation is equally urgent. And it’s an uphill battle in many states where addiction psychiatrists are few and funding is lacking.


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