Drugs overdoses are now the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2016, about 64,000 Americans died from an overdose, driven by a dramatic rise in the abuse of painkillers and narcotics. The opioid class of drugs – which includes street drugs like heroin as well as branded prescriptions like Oxycontin and Vicodin – accounted for more than 66 percent of those overdoses nationwide.
Last year, Bexar County assembled a Joint Opioid Task Force to combat the epidemic. The group has since pushed a few key initiatives, such as training police officers to respond to an overdose, and even filing a lawsuit challenging big-name drug manufacturers.
What progress has been made in fighting the opioid crisis locally?
What causes addiction and why is it so challenging to treat? What can new discoveries about the brain show us about how to treat the country's opioid epidemic?
Part 1 Guests:
- Sarah Holt, producer, director and writer of NOVA's "Addiction" film
- Dr. Corey Waller, nationally recognized addiction expert and emergency specialist
The NOVA "Addiction" documentary premieres Wednesday, October 17, at 8 p.m. on San Antonio's PBS station KLRN.
Part 2 Guests:
- Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff
- Dr. Bryan Alsip, senior vice president and chief medical officer for University Health System, co-chair of the Bexar County Joint Opioid Task Force and former senior official at the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District