On Tuesday night, PBS aired a new Frontline documentary, “Chasing Heroin,” chronicling the impact of the opioid epidemic as well as the efforts of law enforcement, social workers, and public defenders and prosecutors to save the lives of addicted people without locking them up. The entire documentary is streaming online and will air on WLIW/Channel 21 (PBS’s sister station) on Friday, February 26that 7pm.
The documentary was accompanied by four feature articles, which you can access below.
Drug Czar: Treating Substance Abuse as a Crime is “Inhumane” – As the first former addict to run the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli has a different perspective from any of his six predecessors. In this interview, Botticelli talks about his own struggles with addiction, the nation’s heroin and opioid epidemic, and why he says “we can’t arrest our way out of our problem.”
How the Heroin Epidemic Differs in Communities of Color – People develop addictions for a variety of reasons, which makes it difficult to gather concrete data on what’s happening in each community. Frontline spoke to experts and community outreach workers around the country to try to understand the differences. While some have followed a similar trajectory as the white community, a closer look at the epidemic in some communities of color reveals a different story.
The Options and Obstacles to Treating Heroin Addiction – For decades, treatment has centered on an abstinence-only approach, consisting of detox and rehab, accompanied by counseling or group therapy, many inspired by the 12-step model. But as deaths have surged, many experts have begun rethinking that approach, arguing that opiate addiction should be treated the same as a chronic disease — like diabetes or depression. Abstinence and counseling is not enough; medication must also be an option.
How Bad is the Opioid Epidemic? – The epidemic didn’t happen overnight. Over the course of more than a decade, it has grown into a problem destroying lives across the nation, regardless of age, race, wealth or location. Here’s a look at how it happened and who is most affected.