The opioid crisis is devastating communities across the nation. Overdose deaths now account for more deaths than traffic accidents. Because of misuse of and addiction to prescribed pain medications, as well as street drugs such as heroin and fentanyl, the crisis now encompasses addicts in our homes, classrooms, and entire communities. Treatments have not kept pace. This year, the federal government will spend a record $4.6 billion to fight the nation’s deepening opioid crisis.

PBS NewsHour produced a series of important and informative broadcast segments and news articles on the subject America Addicted, several of which were funded by SEPA, and listed below.

Broadcast Features

A community overwhelmed by opioids

The overwhelming problems faced by Huntington, West Virginia, where the opioid crisis has produced first-responder burnout, overflowing courts, hospitals and foster care networks. Medical school professor Dr. James Becker told the NewsHour he is seeing rare disease complications and alarming overdose rates.
How an opioid addiction can eat your heart alive

The pathway to deadly heart infections for people addicted to opioids often begins with a dirty needle or polluted drug. This report focuses on a little-known problem with big consequences for patients and society as a whole.
Synthetic opioids are driving an overdose crisis

The catastrophe of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s roughly 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, that was responsible for 80 percent of the overdoses in Massachusetts last year, and that everyone from clinics to the DEA’s special testing lab in Northern Virginia are trying to get a handle on.
Understanding the science of pain, with the help of virtual reality

The mechanics and science of addiction and the multidisciplinary approach—including hypnosis and virtual reality—being taken by those at the University of Washington, the first institution to treat pain as a problem, not just a symptom of something else.

Reports from the Field

How a brain gets hooked on opioids

A detailed look on how a brain gets hooked on opioids, and how chronic pain patients who deal with mood disorders are at high risk.
How to safely dispose of pain medication

A reminder of how NOT to dispose of opioids and alternative safe disposal methods.
How treating opioids with more opioids has divided the recovery community

The division among professionals who want to treat addicts with suboxone and other medication-assistance and those who insist on a drug-free recovery, as played out in Naples, Florida.
Saving the babies of the opioid epidemic

The problems faced by addicted newborns, who end up in NICU facilities, dosed with methadone and clonidine to get them past their withdrawal. The focus of this segment is the neonatal therapeutic unit at Cabell County-Huntington Hospital in southern West Virginia.

The Complete PBS NewsHour Series

America Addicted

NIH HEAL Initiative

A trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to the national opioid public health crisis