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When Kyle Zimmer started working in the construction industry 40 years ago, he said health and safety standards focused on reducing injuries and fatalities from electrical hazards, falls and a lack of protective gear.  

But today, he said the focus needs to be on addiction, suicide prevention and behavioral health.

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Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban vaping products that are concealed as everyday items like smart watches, backpacks and phone cases. Blumenthal said these products are aimed at teenagers who are trying to "conceal and camouflage their addiction" from their teachers and parents.

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Doctors and public health officials are still trying to figure out the cause behind more than 800 lung injuries related to vaping that have been reported in the U.S. in recent months.

At the same time, there is a longer-term public health crisis as more and more young people have become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarette use -- despite decades of declining traditional cigarette use among teens. 

This hour, we talk about these two public health crises. Do you vape nicotine products like Juul, or maybe use THC cartridges or vape pens from a dispensary? Has the current outbreak in lung injuries changed your vaping habits?

The 2011 casino law in Massachusetts required the state to help address problem gambling. About a year after MGM Springfield opened, health leaders say programs are rolling out.

Why does e-cigarette maker Juul advertise its product on TV when cigarette ads are banned? The short answer: Because it can.

For nearly 50 years, cigarette advertising has been banned from TV and radio. But electronic cigarettes — those battery-operated devices that often resemble oversized USB flash drives with flavored nicotine "pods" that clip in on the end — aren't addressed in the law.

A western Massachusetts sheriff announced Monday he’s mounting a fight against efforts to eliminate the involuntary addiction treatment program he runs in his jail.

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The state of Connecticut is launching an investigation into how one e-cigarette brand is marketed.

Attorney General William Tong announced on Wednesday that he’s sent a ‘civil investigative demand’ to Juul Labs Incorporated, the makers of Juul e-liquids.

Paramedic Peter Canning walks through Hartford’s Pope Park. He picks up empty heroin baggies as he passes by athletic fields, a public pool and a picnic pavilion where a few people appear to nod off.

A health official in Springfield, Massachusetts, said she was surprised by a jump in the number of opioid overdose deaths in the city, and she doesn't know why it happened.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Emails sent by the former chairman of Purdue Pharma are being seen by the public as a result of a complaint filed by the state of Connecticut.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

In her mid-20s, Sarah Howroyd was in a car accident with her fiancé. She suffered minor injuries to her neck and back, and the couple sought treatment for the pain.

“And we were prescribed an astronomical amount of Oxycontin,” she said.

It was the beginning of her long struggle with opioid addiction. 

A major pharmaceutical distribution company and two of its former executives are facing criminal charges for their roles in advancing the nation's opioid crisis and profiting from it.

Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

This hour, we look at how successful Governor Ned Lamont's first hundred days were, and what his plans are to create a "cost-efficient, user friendly" government. Meanwhile, he's at odds with fellow Democrats over a proposed controversal tax increase on the state's wealthy residents.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Between public testimonies on whether or not Connecticut should legalize recreational marijuana, legislators also heard from patients and health care providers Friday on proposed changes to the existing medical marijuana program.

Among them is a plan to add opioid use disorder as a condition that would qualify for treatment with medical cannabis, but many doctors testified against the idea, citing a lack of medical study.

Men are dying after opioid overdoses at nearly three times the rate of women in the United States. Overdose deaths are increasing faster among black and Latino Americans than among whites. And there's an especially steep rise in the number of young adults ages 25 to 34 whose death certificates include some version of the drug fentanyl.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Connecticut emergency departments will get free supplies of naloxone, the opioid antidote, to start distributing the reversal drug to patients as they leave the hospital.

diego_cervo/iStock / Thinkstock

In southeastern Connecticut, a team of Recovery Navigators is offering a hand -- and a sense of hope -- to residents with opioid drug addiction. This hour, we take an in-depth look at the work this team is doing.

We also hear why some municipal leaders -- including the mayor of New London, Connecticut -- are championing legislation that would grant municipalities the right to sue big pharma over the ongoing opioid crisis.

And finally, when it comes to Medicaid insurance, why are certified nurse midwives in Connecticut reimbursed at a lower rate than OB/GYN physicians? We take a closer look with Connecticut Public Radio health care reporter Nicole Leonard, and we also hear from you. 

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

While the total number of people who died from any overdose in 2018 is slightly down from the year before, fentanyl showed up in more than 75 percent of deaths—making it more common than heroin.

The 2019 tax season is here. Have you filed your forms? If so, good on you for not procrastinating. If not, you might want to reconsider waiting until the last minute... because the U.S. tax code has changed.

This hour, we take an in-depth look at the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and find out what it means for those filing taxes this year.

Later, Connecticut Public Radio’s Patrick Skahill takes us inside a UConn lecture hall, where students are learning the science of cultivating... get this... cannabis. 

Matthew Powell / Flickr

When it comes to gambling addiction, what segments of the U.S. population are most affected? This hour, we look at a new report by Connecticut Public Radio and the Sharing America initiative, which shines a light on the issue of problem gambling within the Southeast Asian refugee community.

Later, we discuss a new report on weight-based bullying and its effect on young members of the LGBTQ community. Dr. Rebecca Puhl of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity joins us and we also hear from you. 

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

A methadone clinic in Norwich has been temporarily closed because of a maintenance issue, and that’s forcing more than 500 patients to seek help elsewhere. The Root Center for Advanced Recovery was shut down after contractors assessing the building for an upcoming renovation found a “significant structural integrity issue.”

Toby Talbot / Associated Press

This story was co-published by ProPublica with STAT.

Not content with billions of dollars in profits from the potent painkiller OxyContin, its maker explored expanding into an “attractive market” fueled by the drug’s popularity — treatment of opioid addiction, according to previously secret passages in a court document filed by the state of Massachusetts. 

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Nearly 9,000 children and teens have died from opioid poisonings since the epidemic began in the late 1990s, according to Yale epidemiologist Dr. Julie Gaither. An earlier Yale study found that about 30 kids a year died in hospitals, but this time her team analyzed data on deaths in all settings.

There's yet more disturbing news about kids vaping nicotine.

Vaping jumped dramatically again among high school students between 2017 and 2018.

In fact, it was the biggest one-year spike of any kind in the 44 years the Monitoring the Future survey has been tracking substance abuse by young people.

When Maddy Nadeau was a toddler, her mother wasn't able to care for her. "I remember Mom was always locking herself in her room and she didn't take care of me. My mom just wasn't around at the time," she says.

Every day, her older sister Devon came home from elementary school and made sure Maddy had something to eat.

"Devon would come home from school and fix them cold hot dogs or a bowl of cereal — very simple items that both of them could eat," says Sarah Nadeau, who fostered the girls and later adopted them.

Fried Dough / Flickr

Hartford is Connecticut’s first city to adopt an ordinance that’ll stop vendors from selling tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old.

Credit: Charles Williams (Flickr) / Creative Commons

A new opioid tracking program reports an average of 42 overdoses a month in a section of Hartford.

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Connecticut will benefit from almost $6 million in federal funding for organizations combating the opioid addiction crisis. The Department of Health and Human Services is awarding a total of $400 million in grants to states around the nation.

Domenic Esposito

One morning last June, a giant sculpture of a heroin spoon was dropped on the campus of Purdue Pharma in Stamford. It was a piece of protest art meant to hold the pharmaceutical company responsible for its role in the opioid epidemic.

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