drug addiction

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There are two versions of this story.

One is the story of how drug-abuse involving heroin has spiked upward, especially in young adults, over the past decade. Drug experts say people end up on heroin as a last resort, after getting addicted to prescription painkillers.

That version is in the news this week, and has made headlines for the past few years, when annual drug trends come out.

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How do you build a whole new industry – and undermine a black market -- without increasing its customer base?  

That’s the challenge state regulators are facing as they write the rules that will govern recreational marijuana in Washington. The American Civil Liberties Union is urging caution.

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Police and federal agents arrested 21 people Tuesday in raids in the Seattle area and northern California to bust a ring accused of illegally distributing the painkiller oxycodone.

Not as many people are dying from prescription drug overdoses in Washington – but heroin abuse appears to be spiking higher. Those figures come from an annual report on drug abuse in the state.

Heroin abuse peaked in the 1990s. Since then, it's been a problem primarily for aging drug-addicts. But Caleb Banta-Green of the UW’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute says it's making a comeback among younger people:

You might be tempted to chuckle about some Norwegian researchers peering back at experiments done during the '60s and '70s with LSD as a treatment for alcoholism.

But don't.

Their rigorous analysis, combining data from six different studies, concludes that one dose of the hallucinogenic drug might just help.

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You've probably heard the under-world of drug abuse has taken on a new face over the past decade, with the rise of prescription pill addicts.

The story is more nuanced than that. But before looking at the nuance, here are a few surprising facts and a disturbing trend.

There’s a glimmer of hope in the struggle against prescription drug abuse.  For the first time, the number of overdose deaths from painkillers has gone down in King County. It’s also fallen statewide.

Unfortunately, people hooked on painkillers may be turning to heroin. Heroin abuse used to be confined to Washington's cities -- primarily Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Everett. Now, it's appearing for the first time in small towns and rural areas.

KPLU's complete report.

SuperFantastic (Bruce) / flickr.com

Why were "bath salts" for sale in head shops? Because they contained stimulants known as substituted cathinones that can affect user behavior and judgment. They've been growing in popularity as a legal alternative to cocaine or methamphetamine.

As of April 15th, they're no longer legal in Washington; the state Board of Pharmacy has approved emergency rules classifying the salts as Class I controlled substances, banning their manufacture, sale, delivery and possession.

AP

Drug courts have long been viewed as a success.  The courts give drug offenders charged with non-violent crimes the option of treatment rather than prison.

The courts, including those in Washington State, have proven effective in reducing repeat offenses. But some critics say too much money is being poured into drug courts.

A diversion program intended to keep drug abusers and troubled mentally ill people out of hospitals and jails has run into opposition.  Neighbors of a proposed new facility in Seattle don’t want it.  They say the "Jackson Park" area between Rainier Valley and the Central District already has enough challenges and has become a dumping ground.