Chasing the fix
addiction and homelessness
Across the country, communities are dealing with a dual crisis of homelessness and addiction. Nationwide, roughly half of all people who are chronically homeless have substance use disorders.
Our series focuses on Woonsocket, R.I., a former mill city which, in 2021, had the state’s highest rate of drug overdose deaths. And since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, like so many other cities, the population of unhoused residents also has grown.
Chasing The Fix explores some of the barriers faced by people experiencing homelessness who also are struggling with addiction.
Cities and towns across the country are looking for ways to prevent fatal drug overdoses. But some of the people most in need of addiction treatment are the hardest to reach.
Battling substance abuse is hard for anyone. Imagine what it’s like for someone trying to get sober while they’re homeless.
One man’s struggle to regain his health and sobriety while living on the streets in Woonsocket.
Nearly a decade ago, they lived together in an encampment of homeless people. Today, some say they might not be alive if it weren’t for a tenacious social worker and a support group that didn’t require a pledge of sobriety.
Civil rights advocates are calling for an investigation into how Woonsocket police wound up arresting and incarcerating a 35-year-old homeless Liberian immigrant for another man’s crime.
How can we report for people facing addiction or homelessness, not just on them? We decided to experiment by bringing the reporting to the community.
About this series
This series was reported by health reporter Lynn Arditi, edited by Jeremy Bernfeld, and produced by James Baumgartner, with the support of USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2022 National Fellowship.
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