addiction

A version of this story was originally published in 2018 and has been updated.

They are popular. They are controversial. And now, video games have just become an internationally recognized addiction.

On May 25, the World Health Organization officially voted to adopt the latest edition of its International Classification of Diseases, or ICD, to include an entry on "gaming disorder" as a behavioral addiction.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to require strict limits on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, including age verification controls for online sales, in an effort to curtail their use among children and teenagers.

Larrecsa Cox is a paramedic, but instead of an ambulance with flashing lights and sirens, she drives around in an old, white sedan.

Her first call on a recent day in Huntington, W.Va, was to a quiet, middle-class neighborhood.

"He overdosed yesterday," Cox says. "And I think we've been here before. I'm almost 100 percent sure we've been to this house before."

Cox is the only full-time member of Huntington's new quick-response team — a collaborative project involving law enforcement, the county's medical first responders and several drug treatment providers.

Six months after hiring former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s consulting firm, Purdue Pharma settled a Florida state investigation that had threatened to expose early illegal marketing of its blockbuster drug OxyContin, company and state records show.

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Broward County is about to get more money for programs helping people fight their opioid addictions. 

The federal government set aside nearly $1 billion to fight the opioid crisis nationwide this year. Florida is set to receive $49.3 million from those funds, of which  an estimated $7-10 million is going to Broward County.

County officials don’t know yet exactly how much they will get. 

Four inmates sit silently in the library of the Franklin County House of Correction one summer morning. But these men aren't here to read books.

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Drew was in his early 30s. His medical history included alcohol abuse, but he had been sober for several months when he became my patient.

His previous doctor had given him a prescription for Ativan, or lorazepam, which is frequently used to allay tremors and seizures from alcohol withdrawal.

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Authorities in South Florida have charged more than 60 sober home and drug treatment center operators with health care fraud over the past year and a half.

 

On Thursday, 27-year-old Albert Jones of Boynton Beach was sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison and was ordered to pay $2 million in restitution.

 

Look up from this screen right now. Take a look around. On a bus. In a cafe. Even at a stoplight. Chances are, most of the other people in your line of sight are staring at their phones or other devices. And if they don't happen to have one out, it is certainly tucked away in a pocket or bag.

But are we truly addicted to technology? And what about our kids? It's a scary question, and a big one for scientists right now. Still, while the debate rages on, some doctors and technologists are focusing on solutions.

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The deadline is approaching for Florida’s governor to sign off on a bill aimed at tracking the use of addictive prescription drugs. Some medical professionals see the measure as key to fighting the opioid epidemic.

A one-paragraph letter, barely a hundred words long, unwittingly became a major contributor to today's opioid crisis, researchers say.

"This has recently been a matter of a lot of angst for me," Dr. Hershel Jick, co-author of that letter, told Morning Edition host David Greene recently. "We have published nearly 400 papers on drug safety, but never before have we had one that got into such a bizarre and unhealthy situation."

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When her youngest daughter, Naomi, was in middle school, Ellen watched the teen disappear behind a screen. Her once bubbly daughter went from hanging out with a few close friends after school to isolating herself in her room for hours at a time. (NPR has agreed to use only the pair's middle names, to protect the teen's medical privacy.)

"She started just lying there, not moving and just being on the phone," says Ellen. "I was at a loss about what to do."

Nearly 1.5 million Americans were treated for addiction to prescription opioids or heroin in 2015, according to federal estimates, and when those people get seriously hurt or need surgery, it's often not clear, even to many doctors, how to safely manage their pain. For some former addicts, what begins as pain relief ends in tragedy.

Michael Botticelli served as President Obama's director of National Drug Control Policy, and pushed Congress to pass a funding measure last year making more money available for the treatment of opioid addiction.

Now he's concerned that the proposed Republican health plan will reduce access to health services for people with addiction.

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