Addiction

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin Recovery, a nonprofit that's provided substance abuse treatment in Central Texas since 1967, says it's closing its doors because of the coronavirus.

Anabel with her dog Howie at her home in Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Muchos de nosotros estamos contando el tiempo: los días que llevamos en casa. Los días que hemos estado trabajando desde casa. Los días desde que fuimos a la escuela o desde que perdimos un trabajo. 

Las personas en recuperación están acostumbradas a contar el tiempo como una forma de medir su sobriedad. 

Han pasado 1,308 días desde que Anabel (quien pidió a KUT no revelar su apellido) ha usado drogas o alcohol. Trece años desde que Chris Marshall dejó de beber. Dieciséis meses desde que Kevin Dick ha usado drogas.

Anabel with her dog Howie at her home in Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A lot of us are counting time: Days we’ve been sheltering in place. Days we’ve been working from home. Days since we went to school or since we lost a job. 

People in recovery are used to counting time as a way to measure their sobriety. 

After wrapping up his book about the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs, author Michael Pollan turned his attention to a drug that's hidden "in plain sight" in many people's lives: caffeine.

"Here's a drug we use every day. ... We never think about it as a drug or an addiction, but that's exactly what it is," Pollan says. "I thought, 'Why not explore that relationship?'"

Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Courtney Meeks was 32 years old when she died in February.

Her name may be familiar. Texas Standard’s Joy Diaz followed Meeks' story several years ago when she was a pregnant mom living with addiction and without a home in Austin.

Shutterstock

From Texas Standard.

President Donald Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. The Texas Department of State Health Services says more than 1,100 Texans died from opioids in 2016. Cities and counties across the state have had to increase services to meet the demand.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Roxanne Strong works the front desk at the Salvation Army's shelter in downtown Austin and is often the first point of contact for people seeking help. She's passionate about her job and says it brings her "overwhelming joy."

Ten years ago, it was Strong who came to the shelter. At that time, she had been an addict for years.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The musicians’ song fades over the audience, which is seated in a bright blue room with guitars hanging on the walls. It seems like a regular show somewhere in the Live Music Capital of the World. But this open mic is unique. It takes place at Recovery Unplugged, an in-patient treatment center for addiction.

Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

The Texas foster care system is not perfect. We’ve all heard stories about children bouncing around from one foster placement to another, or kids who are in and out of the system – as if going through a revolving door.

But that’s not the intent. Marissa Gonzalez is a spokesperson for Child Protective Services.

"When a child first comes into foster care, it is temporary,” she says. “The whole idea is for them to be safely reunited with their parents."

 


Stefano Corso/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Editor's note: This story uses first names only because of an ongoing case with Child Protective Services.

Since at least the 1970s, researchers in Texas have been calling substance use a "family affair." A study by the Texas Research Institute's Drug Abuse Clinic compared two groups of families similar to each other in every aspect – from socio-economic status to ethnic background. The only difference was that one group had at least one family member who was an addict. The study found fathers dealing with drugs were critical and arrogant, mothers were disenfranchised and children were bitter and resentful.

That was in the '70s, but the story is not so different today.


Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that an unregulated herbal supplement known as kratom will be added to the list of controlled substances, which would effectively ban it. The kratom plant has opioid-like effects and, as KUT reported last month, some Austinites are using it as a safer alternative to pills or heroin. 


Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

The Standard has been following Courtney Meeks and William Welch since January. We’ve reported on their pregnancy, Baby Eve's birth, and search for housing.  

Intropin/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

This morning, while most of us were sleeping, something happened in the state that might mean the difference between life and death for you or someone you love.

Much has been said and written about the opioid epidemic in the U.S. Of the 25 cities with the highest rate of opioid abuse, four are in Texas –Texarkana, Amarillo, Odessa and Longview. And over the past 15 years, opioid overdoses have risen 80 percent.

A drug called naloxone can help prevent many, if not most, deaths from overdoses in the event of an emergency, but the drug is highly regulated and available only with a doctor’s prescription.

 


Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard: 

I'm the child of an addict. However, it is a life I only know anecdotally. My father was cured before I was born. But the man in front of me is in the thick of it.

"It is a horrible life – look at me – I'm homeless, I squeegee windows at the red light. I spend between $80 to $150 a day (on heroin)," the man tells me.

He says he’s ashamed, and that's why he won't tell me his name. He says he's in his 30s but his parched skin and sunken cheeks make him look decades older.

 


Elizabeth Chatelain

It has been a good several months for the University of Texas at Austin's Radio-Television-Film Department. Recent graduate Brian Schwarz won a Student Academy Award for his short film "Ol' Daddy," Texas Ex Elizabeth Chatelain won a prestigious documentary award for "My Sister Sarah" (story below) and now Annie Silverstein is going to Cannes with her thesis film "Skunk."

"My Sister Sarah" and "Skunk" are among the short films chosen to be highlighted in this year's Longhorn Denius Film Showcase – which features work by graduate and undergraduate students.

The showcase is free and open to the public. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Student Activity Center Auditorium on the UT campus.

Original Story (March 3, 2014): Elizabeth Chatelain graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master’s degree from the Radio-Television-Film Department last May. In December, she won an International Documentary Association Award for her short film – "My Sister, Sarah."

The documentary follows Chatelain’s sister – Sarah – a recovering meth and crack addict who has felt true pain and tragedy.