Opioid Epidemic | WYPR

Opioid Epidemic

Mary Rose Madden

Al Jackson has been addicted to heroin since he was a young teenager, growing up in South Baltimore. 

These days, he says, it's hard to find heroin that's doesn't have the extremely deadly and cheap opioid, fentanyl mixed in.

And so, at the age of 56, he's desperate to kick his opioid addiction before it takes him under. 

Luckily for him, medicaid patients have more treatment options available. But, the clock is ticking like never before with fentanyl on the streets. 

Cindy Shebley via Flickr

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has charged seven members of the Sackler family, who control the drug maker Purdue Pharma, with violating the state Consumer Protection Act by allegedly deceiving patients and prescribers about the dangers and efficacy of taking opioids to treat chronic pain.

John Lee

 

 

Baltimore County has the second highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses in the state. Only Baltimore City has more. The county will begin reaching out to people, especially those who have personally been affected by opioids, to ask them what should be done.

 

 

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

State health officials expect that when the final numbers are accounted for, more than 2000 Marylanders will have died from opioid overdoses in 2018. And the number one opioid killer is fentanyl.

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

Public policy on drug use in America focused for years on punishing those addicted. But more recently it’s turned toward what public health experts call “harm reduction.”  By reducing harm from drug use, many experts and public health specialists say, you help an addicted person live another day, a day that may be the start on the path to treatment.

Daniel Carl Torsch Foundation

Dan Torsch’s older brother John remembers. It was about 17 years ago. 

 

“I can trace his addiction back to one 100 milligram morphine pill,” Torsch said.

 

They were teenagers, partying in Ocean City. Drinking, smoking weed, snorting cocaine. John offered his brother the morphine pill. The next morning John said he woke up with a hangover. 

 

“All I wanted to do was lay on the beach, maybe smoke a joint and eat some food,” Torsch said. “What do you think the very first thing Dan asked me when he woke up? ‘You got any more of those pills?’”

AP Photo/Patrick Sison

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski is considering appointing an Opioid Czar to be the point person as the county grapples with the second-highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses in Maryland. This comes as the county is being criticized for not doing enough to address a problem Olszewski says is ravaging parts of the county.

 

 

Opioid Reversals Remain Underreported, say Public Health Experts

Sep 25, 2018
Dominique Maria Bonessi

 

Karen Holliday says she has something in common with Billie Holiday, Baltimore’s famous jazz singer who died in July 1959 from illness related to drug and alcohol abuse, beside the last name.

“Drugs have always been in this family of mine,” says Holliday. “I was the person who slept right there in the park across the street from the War Memorial. I was also a person that used there.”

MD Congressmen Split Over Opioids

Jul 10, 2018
Official Portraits

The House of Representatives took up more than seventy opioid related bills last month; some dealing with safely disposing of old pills, others trying to ensure the government has the best data on the crisis and still others seeking to prevent drugs from flowing in through the nation’s many points of entry, south and north.

And as you might expect, Democrats and Republicans, some locked in tight re-election contests, have been clamoring to get their bills voted on. So, does that mean it’s all just political theater?

Not according to Maryland’s lone Republican Congressman, Andy Harris.

Jamyla Krempel

Baltimore City is suing a number of drug companies and distributors as well as two Baltimore County doctors for their alleged roles in the city’s opioid crisis. The city joins more than a hundred states and cities that have already filed lawsuits against the companies. WYPR City Hall Reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi talked with Nathan Sterner about the suit.