Epidemic In Our Backyard
WQED's Opioid Initiative
The heroin and opioids epidemic has been building for years, stemming from the over-prescription of opioid drugs used to treat pain. While coroners and medical examiners across Pennsylvania have been compiling grim statistics at an unprecedented rate, a major collaboration is underway to combat this public health crisis, with state lawmakers, law enforcement, medical professionals and advocates joining forces. WQED Multimedia has spent years covering the issue, but in 2016 began a more focused, in-depth, multiplatform look at the crisis in Western Pennsylvania. Our project includes televised documentaries, digital first content, broadcast community forums, social media outreach and informational resources.
In 2018, WQED also joined forces with all of Pennsylvania's public media outlets in a collaborative project called "Battling Opioids." The initiative coincides with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's issuance of a disaster declaration for Pennsylvania’s “heroin and opioid epidemic.” WHYY, WITF, WLVT, WPSU, WSEE, WVIA and WQED will share resources and content. The stations will also increase TV and radio airtime, community engagement, web and social media presence - all focusing on the opioids crisis.
Battling Opioids programs are made possible locally in part by:
"Broken: Women - Families - Opioids"
A WQED Documentary
Opioid addiction is destructive across all demographics. But compared to men, women’s addiction can have more devastating implications. Some children are born addicted, while others face uncertain futures because of addicted mothers. Many children are placed in foster care, but an increasing number are being raised by extended family – further disrupting lives. We explore how opioid addiction among women is breaking the family bond and changing the fabric of society.
"Hope After Heroin: The Epidemic in our Backyard"
A WQED Documentary
This program explores the opioid crisis in Western Pennsylvania on a broader level - with a focus on how over-prescription of opioid drugs led to today's epidemic. People who have experienced addiction, either themselves or through a loved one, share their stories of struggle, stigma and loss. But they also show how they've managed to use their pain as a catalyst for change, providing hope for others.
"Battling Opioids: Stories of Hope"
A WQED Documentary
This 30-minute program is another installment in the multi-year, collaborative initiative among Pennsylvania's seven PBS stations - raising awareness, breaking the stigma and spotlighting new opioids treatment. With stories all focused in Western Pennsylvania, topics include: recovery during the COVID 19 pandemic; parental addiction causing an overcrowded foster system; clinics on wheels in rural areas; a welcoming room that’s become a respite for people struggling to stay clean.
WQED Community Engagement
Hitting Home: Women • Families • Opioids
This live forum is hosted by Lisa Washington and Minette Seate at WQED's Fred Rogers Studio.The panelists are Cheryl Andrews - Washington County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Deborah McDonald - Allegheny Health Network Women's Health Programs, Thelma Turner - Care Navigator.
Hope After Heroin: Fighting the Epidemic
WQED's Fred Rogers Studio hosted a standing room only crowd. They gathered to learn more about opioid crisis, express their concerns, share resources, and discuss the issues directly affecting Western Pennsylvania, the ongoing efforts to deal with the crisis, as well as current initiatives.
Hope After Heroin: Community Project
An in-depth, multi-platform look at the heroin crisis in Western Pennsylvania. The project includes a full-lengthy documentary, town hall meeting/community forum, direct-to-web videos. An educational component will target students in schools throughout Western Pennsylvania.
WQED's Past Coverage
WQED has spent years reporting on the opioids crisis as it emerged in Western Pennsylvania. These stories from the WQED archives represent part of our ongoing coverage from years past.
Oxycontin: Message From Its Maker
(Original Broadcast: February 6, 2001) As news reports began to circulate about the dangers of Oxycontin addiction, this short video from WQED features a representative from the company that makes Oxycontin - addressing concerns of patients taking the drug under a doctor's advice.
WQED Digital-First Productions
The Pennsylvania Opiods Data Dashboard
What is Act 139 and how did it change laws regarding Naloxone?
Get answers to frequently-asked questions about Naloxone.
Learn more about Pennsylvania’s Opioid Prescribing Guidelines.
Review Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s list of opioid treatment Centers of Excellence.
You can find additional coverage of the region’s heroin epidemic through our media partner, PublicSource, in their series, Riding the Rush.
This project is made possible by
with additional support from
Projects like these are made possible through the generous support of WQED members.