Opioid Crisis: The Ripple Effect

As part of a public media collaborative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, WXXI News and partners Oregon Public Broadcasting and ideastream in Ohio present a special series, Opioid Crisis: The Ripple Effect.

The reporting series will look at the people and issues indirectly affected by the opioid crisis and make the case that the epidemic’s ripple effects impact many. 

We want to hear what you have to say about opioid and heroin use in our community. Please click on this link to take a short survey.


North Clinton residents fight back in war on drugs

Apr 11, 2018
Martin Kaufman/WXXI News

No más.

That means “no more” in Spanish. And it’s what residents of Rochester’s La Avenida, or North Clinton Avenue, neighborhood are saying as they fight to reclaim their community.

The area has become ground zero for the opioid epidemic regionally, and local officials say users often flock to the busy street to buy drugs and sometimes use vacant homes to shoot up.

WXXI News partnered with ideastream in Cleveland and Oregon Public Broadcasting to bring you special coverage of the opioid epidemic in America. 

In this broadcast, Evan Dawson hosts a panel discussing pain management, prescription policy, and disparities in care related to the opioid crisis. Our guests:

  • Dr. Alisha Moreland-Capuia, M.D., executive director of the Avel Gordly Center for Healing, and assistant professor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University
  • Dr. Crawford Barnett, M.D., pain management physician in the Department of Pain Management at the Cleveland Clinic, and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University
  • Dr. Timothy Wiegand, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Michelle Marikos, Oregon-certified peer support specialist for chronic pain with Moving through Chronic Pain and Oregon Pain Guidance
  • Laura Garrison, vice president for development WXXI and The Little Theatre, who has experienced long-term chronic pain

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

On a Thursday evening at Gates Town Hall, the parking lot is busy. Coffee is brewing and someone is cutting up a pan of homemade brownies. Boy Scouts in full uniform run to a meeting down the hall.

It doesn’t feel like a place where people are about to be trained in how to use potentially lifesaving medication. But everyone in this room has come here to learn how to administer Narcan, also known as naloxone, which blocks the effects of opioids and can reverse an overdose.

Virtual reality serves as pain relief alternative

Apr 9, 2018
Arya Surowidjojo/OPB

For Moira Reeves, what helps keep the pain at bay is “Bear Blast.”

In her virtual reality world, the 6-year-old from Baker City, Oregon, is roaming a cartoonish Wild West town, blasting dodgeballs at teddy bears that pop up from the ground.

In the physical world, however, Moira is getting her wound dressing changed. The VR experience is effectively blocking the presence of the surgical scissors that has become her constant source of anxiety.

Denise Young/WXXI

One day, Rebecca Shriver was at work, helping an elderly patient get to the bathroom, when the patient became unsteady.

“If I didn’t put my leg out and try to catch her, she would’ve cracked her head on the wall,” Shriver recalled.

Shriver was a certified nursing assistant at the time, in Buffalo, New York. She had twisted her knee a few months earlier, and that day – as she tried to keep her patient from falling – things took a turn for the worse.

“We both fell and that resulted in the disease I have now,” Shriver said.