opioid

A spate of high profile police shootings have drawn attention to the way police respond to people dealing with mental illness. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A recent report from Massachusetts shows the number of cases of elderly abuse is on the rise. Experts attribute that to the state’s opioid addiction crisis, which leads some addicts to take financial advantage of or abuse older family members.

For this week’s The Pulse, we speak with Division of Elderly Affairs Director Charles Fogarty to learn how Rhode Island could be facing a similar problem.

Aaron Read / RIPR

State lawmakers will consider a suite of bills Tuesday aimed at fighting opioid addiction and overdose. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

An increasing number of pregnant women are in treatment for opioid addiction. They face a heart-wrenching dilemma: stop taking the medication that’s helped them stay sober, or risk a baby born in withdrawal.

Now, researchers want to know if they can predict how severe that withdrawal will be, and whether they can head symptoms off before they get worse. And they're recruiting mothers like Ashley to help them answer those questions.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Brown University’s medical school has teamed up with Rhode Island Hospital to teach future doctors how to address opioid addiction and overdose. They’re using a nearly $1million federal dollar grant to create a new curriculum.

And the need could not be more urgent. Just last week the Centers for Disease Control reported that half a million Americans have died from accidental drug overdoses in the past 15 years, mostly involving prescription painkillers and increasingly heroin.

RI Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force

To tackle an epidemic at the population level, you need data. Lots and lots of data. That's especially true with our state, and our nation's, opioid addiction and overdose death epidemic. Scientists need to know who's using? Where? When? Why? How do they get started? Who supplies them? What else were they taking when they died? What are the other factors in their lives or communities contributing to the problem? 

RI Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force

Can Rhode Island cut opioid deaths by a third in three years? That’s the goal of the state’s new strategic plan on addiction and overdose.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force holds its next public meeting Wednesday morning to present the beginnings of a plan to combat overdose deaths.

Jim Gillen

I first met Jim Gillen, who died over the weekend after a long battle with cancer, a couple of years ago. I was reporting on skyrocketing rates of opioid addiction and overdose. And if you wanted to know about addiction and recovery in Rhode Island, you sought out Jim.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The Veterans Health Administration has stepped up efforts to fight drug overdose deaths and prescription painkiller addiction.

Veterans are more likely to suffer from chronic pain than others, and opioid painkillers have been a mainstay of treatment.

RIPR FILE

Accidental drug overdose deaths continue to increase in Rhode Island. That’s some of the discouraging news public health experts delivered at a Rhode Island Public Health Association event.

Doctors who want more experience treating addiction can apply for a new training program at Rhode Island Hospital. The hospital has just won accreditation from the American Board of Addiction Medicine for a new fellowship – one of just 27 addiction medicine fellowships in the country.

Jake Harper / RIPR

Hepatitis C infects an estimated five million Americans, nearly 20-thousand Rhode Islanders among them. And most of them don’t know it. But many are about to find out. It takes about 20 years for most people to notice any symptoms from hepatitis C, and it was about that long ago most people got infected. Now doctors in Rhode Island and throughout the country are noticing a wave of patients with the kind of advanced liver disease hepatitis C can cause.                                                                               

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

School nurse teachers in Rhode Island say they need to have an opioid overdose rescue drug called Narcan on hand in schools. That’s one of several findings of a first-ever survey of school nurses about the use of opioids like prescription painkillers in schools and experiences with overdoses in schools. Overdose educator and University of Rhode Island pharmacy professor Jef Bratberg presented the findings. He says it’s not surprising that schools are affected.

Addiction usually leaves a wake of chaos, and all kinds of casualties - marriages, jobs, health. Most tragically, the current crisis of opioid addiction (to prescription painkillers and heroin) in Rhode Island has cost too many lives. Well over 160 Rhode Islanders have died from accidental opioid overdoses so far this year. Hundreds more might have joined them had it not been for the rescue drug naloxone.

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