Today we’re publishing The Prescription Epidemic, a set of reports on the human cost of prescription drug addiction in Washington State. The project is the result of a six-month investigation led by InvestigateWest’s Carol Smith into the origins of the epidemic, the challenges it poses for communities going forward, and what lessons other states might learn.
You can read the resulting work this morning in The Spokesman-Review and on Crosscut.com, as well as here on our website. This project also marks our fourth collaboration with PBS affiliate KCTS-9. Monday, Jan. 30 at 9 p.m., KCTS is airing a documentary we co-produced on the faces of this addiction.
Prescription pain medications kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined, and in a pill-happy culture, the trend shows few signs of reversing.
Washington State has been at the epicenter. The state’s residents are among the highest consumers of prescription pain meds in the country. They are also dying from prescription overdoses at a rate of two people a day, one of the highest rates in the nation.
At the beginning of this month, the strictest prescribing law in the country went into effect. But many loopholes in the system remain. Public health experts around the country are watching what happens, and tracking other innovative pilot programs here aimed at cutting abuse.
Let us know what you think. Share your own stories on our Facebook page. And stay tuned this week as we release more documents, maps, data, and interviews on the prescription epidemic.