Keeping The Spotlight On Overdose, Addiction

Apr 8, 2014

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 conversation is also apparent as measured by Google searches. Check out this graphic I created using Google Ngram. It illustrates the rising popularity, over time, of three search terms I just happened to pick: opiate withdrawal, Narcan, and naloxone (the latter two are two different names for an opioid overdose antidote). 

Speaking of public events, a couple upcoming:

- On Friday, April 11, at Alger Hall, Rhode Island College, from 9:30 am to Noon, Anchor Recovery Community Center is holding the second in a series of public forums on addiction, overdose, and recovery. I've just learned that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is scheduled to appear. He'll be joining other scheduled speakers like Governor Lincoln Chafee and several addiction and recovery experts. The following day the center is hosting a screening of a documentary about addiction. More information here.

- And while these are increasingly common, I thought I'd mention a drug take-back day hosted by the City of Providence on April 26. Here's a resource I just discovered, however: an interactive map of drug disposal spots with information about what they take and when they're open.

As for media coverage, some great work is being done all over the place, in my humble opinion. The Providence Journal is running its well-reported series on opioid addiction and overdose this week. Check out the infographics that accompany some of the stories.

And yours truly will be appearing on WNPR's (Hartford, CT-based NPR station) show "Where We Live" to talk about heroin and prescription drugs, and the reporting I've done on that (most recently, a one-hour documentary called "Killer Drugs") on Friday, April 11 at 9 am.

If keeping the spotlight on these issues were all it took to help people recover, that would be great. But as I've learned and so many others who are reporting on this or struggling with it have learned as well, it takes a whole lot more than that. But awareness, and coaxing the conversation out of the shadows, where it used to live primarily, is a good start.