drug abuse

Fewer patients in recent months have been showing up for drug and alcohol treatment at REACH Health Services in Baltimore. But Dr. Yngvild Olsen, the medical director there, suspects it's not for good reasons: Some have likely relapsed or delayed drug and alcohol addiction treatment, while others likely fear infection and have stayed home.

Vinton County, Ohio, has been on the front lines of the opioid crisis in the U.S. for several years. The drugs may have changed over the years — from opioids to meth — but the devastating effects on families have not. And even though the county hasn't had high infection rates of the coronavirus, the necessary social restrictions have made it harder to keep people addicted to drugs and their children safe.

Opioid addiction isn't taking a break during the coronavirus pandemic.

But the U.S. response to the viral crisis is making addiction treatment easier to get.

Washita-Custer County Treatment Court

Recovering from drug addiction requires personal accountability, but that’s hard to do from home. So, Oklahoma drug courts have to innovate to maintain service and a social distance.

Before the spreading coronavirus became a pandemic, Emma went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every week in the Boston area and to another support group at her methadone clinic. She says she felt safe, secure and never judged.

"No one is thinking, 'Oh my God, she did that?' " says Emma, "'cause they've been there."

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill about Attorney General Mike Hunter filing a lawsuit against major opioid distributors in the state, the governor's task force on corrections reform releases its report while also asking for more time to come up with detailed plans to reduce the state's prison population and two initiative petitions to make recreational marijuana legal in the state are getting push back from the state's medical marijuana industry.

 

Chris Landsberger / The Oklahoman

The legal fight over who is responsible, and who should pay for the national opioid crisis that has killed thousands of Americans will likely take years.

Sentencing is scheduled to begin on Monday in the criminal trial of top executives at Insys Therapeutics. This landmark case was the first successful prosecution of high-ranking pharmaceutical executives linked to the opioid crisis, including onetime billionaire John Kapoor.

There's the crazy that people who don't have a family member with an addiction just don't understand, Henriët Schapelhouman said.

"There's high highs where it looks like, 'Oh, they're better,' because they're pretending really well," she said. "Then, within hours there's a crash because they're using again; there was a fight; they're slamming the door. And you're just heartbroken."

Dr. Angela Gatzke-Plamann didn't fully grasp her community's opioid crisis until one desperate patient called on a Friday afternoon in 2016.

"He was in complete crisis because he was admitting to me that he had lost control of his use of opioids," recalls Gatzke-Plamann.

The patient had used opioids for several years for what Gatzke-Plamann calls "a very painful condition." But a urine screening one week earlier had revealed heroin and morphine in his system as well. He denied any misuse that day. Now he was not only admitting it, but asking for help.

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