Taping 'Diagnosing Solutions'
January 26, 2012
Enrique Cerna moderates a panel on prescription drug abuse in the KCTS-9 studio. Photo credit: Peter Johnson.
Experts on prescription drug abuse gathered at KCTS 9's studios in Seattle today to tape a panel discussion. Over the course of a half hour, the panel discussed the medical and social causes of prescription drug abuse and policies that might make a dent in the addiction epidemic. The discussion will air Monday, January 30 at 9 p.m. on KCTS-9, following the airing of InvestigateWest and KCTS's jointly-produced "Prescription for Abuse" documentary.
The panel included policymakers, law enforcement, medical professionals, and treatment experts, as well as our own Carol Smith, who wrote the two-part investigation on which the documentary is based. The experts agreed that the massive upsurge of prescription drug abuse in recent years is directly related to an upsurge in opioid prescriptions from doctors; in the late 90s, the medical profession concluded that its methodologies for treating both chronic and acute pain were ineffectual and began to prescribe more opioid medications as a result.
However, that well-intentioned change in medical practice resulted in disaster for many patients. Some doctors reacted to the new methodology by overprescribing medication for pain patients—a fumble that allowed incredibly powerful narcotics to sneak into American homes.
Given that prescription drugs are prescribed by doctors for patients with legitimate pain needs, the profile of a prescription drug addict often doesn’t match that of a street drug user.
Sean Riley, a former Kirkland police officer and a panel member, is one such patient. After he suffered an injury on the job, he began abusing Vicodin prescribed to him by his doctor. "I thought it was okay because a doctor had given it to me," Riley said. "I wanted that edge. ...I wanted to get back on the job before I was scheduled [to do so.]"
However, instead of increasing his productivity, Riley found himself on a path deep into addiction -- one that eventually led to his arrest for prescription fraud. Though it cost him the job he loved, Riley has embarked on a new career – one he finds even more meaningful -- as an activist fighting addiction in the law enforcement and emergency worker community.
Riley pointedly credits his current health and productivity to the availability of treatment options rather than jail time or other punitive action. "I really think treatment is the best option for [emergency worker addicts] and the population at large."
To learn more, check out the trailer for the documentary.
Environment | April 2014
Energizing our world with wood sounds so natural. And it has quickly become a multibillion-dollar industry as governments including British Columbia and the European Union turn to biomass to replace dirty old coal. Yet what we found when we dug into the coal-vs.-wood debate will surprise you.
Public Health | April 2014
We update our 2013 series on Washington’s estimated fish consumption rate with news of a private meeting where Gov. Jay Inslee and his advisers wrestled with how much to protect business versus consumers when it comes to water pollution in the fish we eat.
Consumer Safety | April 2014
Manufacturers put a warning sticker on every ATV sold: The vehicles aren't meant for roads. But a push to allow just that is rolling out across the country. Washington and three other states passed new laws in 2013, among 22 states to allow or expand ATV access to roads since 2004.
Wealth & Poverty | December 2013
It's the unexpected catch in catch-share programs: A federal program that was supposed to help preserve and enhance the fishing economy in Kake, Alaska, has instead helped cause a severe decline. Meanwhile, 50 miles southeast, the town of Petersburg is booming.
The third part in our trilogy of fish stories examines the consequences catch-share policy where it was born, even as the model has been established in 14 other U.S. fisheries, encompassing dozens of species ranging from New England scallops to Pacific sole.
Foster Care | November 2013
State law now allows more kids to stay in foster care for an extra three years — until age 21. But many either refuse the help, or fail to qualify for it.
An investigation by KUOW in collaboration with InvestigateWest looks at why this transition to adulthood is trickier than expected – for foster kids, and for the state.
Public Health | September 2013
Of the roughly 50,000 kids who will attend Seattle schools this fall, nearly 2,000 will hit the books in classrooms within 500 feet of Interstate 5, InvestigateWest has found. This despite a body of evidence dating back decades that highway air pollution can cause lifelong respiratory problems and asthma attacks and boost school absenteeism.
From Seattle to Spokane, what can be done to make sure schools are healthy places for kids?
Photo: John Marshall JHS, 1963. SPSA 108-97.
Public Health | July 2013
Memory loss is one of the symptoms of dementia. So is wandering. Over the last five years, at least 10 people in Washington state have died after wandering away from where they live. It’s a problem that communities will have to confront as the population ages. But not all police departments are prepared for these kinds of incidents.
Wealth & Poverty | June 2013
Six nonprofit groups arose on the Bering Sea shore, and they have invested mightily in ships, real estate and processing plants. Over two decades, the groups amassed a combined net worth of $785 million," write Lee van der Voo and The New York Times' Kirk Johnson.
But the results on the ground, in rural community and economic development, have been deeply uneven, and nonexistent for many people who still gaze out to the blinking lights of the factory ships and wonder what happened. Photo Credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times