It depends on what you define as progress, or on what you define as an acceptable risk.
Every two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts out results from its latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey, or YRBS. Teens are surveyed about all kinds of risky and healthy behaviors, from how likely they are to wear a bike helmet to whether or not they've eaten fruits or vegetables in the past week, as well as the usual suspects like smoking and unprotected sex.
From left to right: State police chief Col. Stephen O'Donnell, Governor Lincoln Chafee, Health department director Dr. Michael Fine, Dept. of Behavior Health head Craig Stenning, and the Providence Center's Jim Gillen at a press conference Thursday at the Anchor Community Recovery Center in Pawtucket, discuss a reporter's question.
State leaders have announced some new steps in the fight against prescription painkiller and heroin addiction. The news accompanies the release of the latest grim numbers of drug overdose deaths.
Rhode Island health department head Michael Fine told a standing-room-only crowd at the Anchor Community Recovery Center in Pawtucket that 85 people have died since January from suspected drug overdoses, mostly heroin. Hundreds more have overdosed but survived, he said, thanks to an antidote called Narcan, which first responders carry.
Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog post titled "Hearing Heroin Everywhere." If I were to rewrite that title today, it'd be "Hearing Narcan Everywhere." It seems the conversation has changed a bit from "Houston, we have a problem," to "Houston, how do we stop this thing?" But I'm confident most health care providers and people affected by addiction and overdose would agree that the fact that we're still having the conversation - publicly, in the media, in public forums, at city halls - is a good thing.
The Providence Center's Jim Gillen, Warwick police dept. Captain Joe Coffey, and Rhode Island Public Radio health care reporter Kristin Gourlay talk overdose and addiction at Tuesday night's Policy & Pinot, our ongoing discussion series at the Providence Athenaeum.
We had a full house at the Providence Athenaeum last week. If you weren't able to join us, not to worry. You can listen to the full program right here.
Rhode Island Public Radio, in concert with the lovely Providence Athenaeum, hosted a stellar group of panelists for this one hour radio show taped in front of a live audience. Guests included a recovering addict and overdose survivor, an addiction medicine and infectious disease specialist, a drug abuse epidemiologist, a Warwick police captain trained in mental health first aid, and an addiction treatment specialist.
If you weren't able to join us last night at the Providence Athenaeum for Policy & Pinot - "Killer Drugs: Tackling Opioid Addiction and Overdose in Rhode Island" - not to worry. We recorded the program and will broadcast it Sunday, March 16 at 6 pm here on Rhode Island Public Radio. But we're sorry we missed you!
More about last night's Policy & Pinot at the Providence Athenaeum