Substance Abuse

Local Feature
5:41 pm
Sun March 9, 2014

Killer Drugs: Tackling Opioid Addiction And Overdose

Bottle of Oxycodone Tablets
Kristin Gourlay RIPR

A special report on the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose. We examine how our problem with prescription painkiller and heroin addiction and overdose got so bad, what it's like to respond to this crisis on the front lines, and how communities, and addicts, can recover.

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The Pulse
12:58 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

What Happens To Kids After They Get In Trouble?

That's the gist of the question a Bradley Hasbro Research Center scientist is asking as she embarks on a project to study 400 Rhode Island teens after their first brush with the law.

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Health Care
2:09 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Overdose Deaths Reach 45; Fentanyl Plus Heroin Still Suspected

Rhode Island's health department director says 45 Rhode Islanders have died from overdoses so far this year. Concerns are growing that a dangerous combination of heroin and Fentanyl is continuing to kill unsuspecting users. The state medical examiner is still investigating, but Fentanyl is suspected in many of these deaths. It's a powerful painkiller, up to 80 times more powerful than heroin. In combination it can kill even habitual users quickly. There's an antidote for overdoses from opioids like heroin and other painkillers. It's called Narcan.

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Health Care
1:16 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Drug Overdose Deaths Spike Again; State Police To Carry Antidote

Naloxone, or Narcan, nasal spray, in a kit carried by Quincy, MA police.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State health authorities say 38 Rhode Islanders have died from suspected illicit IV drug overdoses so far this year, possibly from drugs that may have been laced with a powerful substance called fentanyl. That's despite public warnings the drugs might be tainted.

Drug dealers may be adding synthetic fentanyl to heroin to boost potency or stretch the supply to make more money. But what their customers may not know is that this particular compound is many times more potent than heroin and can kill even habitual IV drug users the first time they take it.

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Health Care
12:55 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Agency Issues "Emergency Rules" In Drug Overdose Crisis

Credit Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals has issued emergency regulations in response to the recent spike in drug overdose deaths.

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The Pulse
12:49 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Hearing Heroin Everywhere

Has heroin abuse reached epidemic proportions? What about painkiller abuse? Or are we just hearing more about it?

The academic jury is still out on this, as far as I can tell. Of course, it doesn't really matter what you call it if you've lost a loved one to heroin overdose.

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The Pulse
12:31 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Communities Ask How To Prevent Overdose

RICARES flyer for an overdose prevention community forum on Feb. 5.
Credit RICARES

Two community forums are taking place over the next week to talk about preventing overdose. They couldn't come at a better time.

Overdose kills more Rhode Islanders than any other kind of accident (including traffic and guns). During the first two weeks of January, 22 Rhode Islanders died from presumed illicit drug overdoses. Another two died over the past two weekends, according to a source at the health department.

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The Pulse
12:27 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

The Bottom Health Stories of 2013

Lots of news organizations, including this one, are ticking off the year's top 10 stories. I'd like to run through some of Rhode Island's bottom health stories, meaning the ones least likely to have appeared on radar screens - but which should have. And don't worry: there's some good news in here too!

In no particular order:

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Health Care
3:07 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

To Curb Abuse, Lifespan ERs Adopt Rx Painkiller Guidelines

Rhode Island Hospital and the entire Lifespan network have announced new guidelines for prescribing painkillers in their emergency rooms. ER doctors are trying to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse and addiction.

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The Pulse
3:54 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Top 10 Developments In Mental Health Since Newtown

It's been a year since the tragedy in Newtown, CT took so many lives, including that of the gunman, who some believe was battling serious mental illness but may not have gotten all the treatment he needed.

We’ve heard lots, since then, about the need for more mental health resources, and lots about the rollercoaster ride of federal and state funding for those resources. Here’s a round up of some of the year’s most significant developments for mental health patients and advocates:

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