Brian Mann

The U.S. faces an unprecedented surge of drug deaths, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting another grim milestone this week.

In a single 12-month period, fatal overdoses claimed 101,623 lives.

But researchers and drug policy experts say the grim toll obscures an important and hopeful fact: Most Americans who experience alcohol and drug addiction survive.

They recover and go on to live full and healthy lives.

American women helped lead the international fight to include women's ski jumping in the Winter Olympics, and the U.S. team was once ranked No. 1 in the world.

But in a major blow to the program, American women failed to garner enough points in qualifying competitions to send any athletes to the Beijing Games.

"It's disappointing because all of us want to be Olympians," said Anna Hoffmann, 21, who won the U.S. women's ski jumping trials last month in Lake Placid, N.Y.

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Deaths due to drug overdose have topped a million for the first time since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began collecting data on the problem more than two decades ago.

A study released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the CDC, found that 932,364 people died in the U.S. from fatal overdoses from 1999 through 2020.

Separate preliminary data from the CDC shows another 100,000 drug deaths expected in 2021.

Updated December 30, 2021 at 11:28 AM ET

When Pam Mandel got the phone call this week that her cousin couldn't make the trip to Seattle to share New Year's Eve with her, she said it felt like a low blow.

"I have to tell you, I laughed because it was so weirdly predictable given how bad things have been," Mandel said.

The omicron variant is making the New Year's holiday hard for millions of Americans. As infections surge around the country, celebrations have been canceled.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says most of the state's essential workers can return to work just five days after a positive coronavirus test if they're fully vaccinated and meet other safety standards.

Previously, workers were required to stay away from their jobs for at least 10 days.

Local officials in southeastern Idaho are calling on Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland to resign after he allegedly aimed a pistol at members of a church youth group and pulled their leader out of a car by her hair.

Rowland later told investigators he was concerned about "drunk Indians" from the nearby Shoshone-Bannock Fort Hall Reservation.

Tribal leaders have condemned Rowland's language as racist.

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In Kentucky, searchers continue to go house to house, combing through debris in hopes of finding the more than 100 people still unaccounted for after vicious tornadoes swept through the state on Friday night.

Families and business owners are also beginning to clean up neighborhoods, salvaging the parts of their lives that remain in the wake of a disaster that has left at least 74 people dead.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Under a chilly blue sky, a dozen men and women stood in a line on a devastated street in Dawson Springs, Ky., one of the small towns hit hardest by the swarm of tornadoes that raked the nation's midsection Friday night into Saturday.

Geoffrey Deibler, a police chief from neighboring Morganfield, came to volunteer on one of the search-and-recovery crews fanning out across Kentucky on Monday.

The holiday season is upon us, meaning it's time to reflect on another pandemic year — and raise our glasses to celebrate the big and small joys that have kept us going.

Updated November 30, 2021 at 3:54 PM ET

Officials in New York City say the first government-approved supervised drug injection sites in the nation began offering services to people with addiction on Tuesday.

The program, backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is part of the city's "harm reduction" strategy designed to reduce an unprecedented surge of overdose deaths.

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It's an hour before showtime and Rob Gann is running late. He has to get his makeup on, climb into his costume, and build a flash-bang firework that will provide the big noisy finish for his act.

"Most clowns have a little bit of pyromaniac in them," Gann chuckles. "End result is you blow something up."

Updated November 23, 2021 at 8:23 PM ET

A federal jury on Tuesday found three of the nation's biggest pharmacy chains, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, liable for helping to fuel the U.S. opioid crisis — a decision that's expected to have legal repercussions as thousands of similar lawsuits move forward in courts across the country.

Editor's note: This story contains quotes and information originally discussed during a Twitter Spaces event hosted by NPR TV critic Eric Deggans and featuring NPR addiction correspondent Brian Mann, Dopesick book author Beth Macy, Dopesick series creator/showrunner Danny Strong and more. Follow us on Twitter, and read more of NPR's addiction coverage here.

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Updated November 17, 2021 at 12:05 PM ET

More than 100,000 people died over a 12-month period from fatal drug overdoses for the first time in U.S. history, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Big change is coming to an American household name.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) My daughter uses my shampoo.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Johnson's Baby Shampoo.

Editor's note: This story contains quotes and information originally discussed during a Twitter Spaces event hosted by NPR TV critic Eric Deggans and featuring NPR addiction correspondent Brian Mann, Dopesick author Beth Macy, Dopesick series creator Danny Strong and more. Follow us on Twitter, and read more of NPR's addiction coverage here.

Updated November 10, 2021 at 6:07 PM ET

A federal bankruptcy judge in North Carolina agreed Wednesday to temporarily halt roughly 38,000 lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson that claim the company's baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.

But Judge Craig Whitley only delayed the cases for 60 days. He also ruled that the case should be heard in New Jersey, where J&J is headquartered, and not in North Carolina.

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma has tossed out a landmark 2019 ruling in an opioid case against Johnson & Johnson worth $465 million.

The 5-to-1 decision found the company can't be held liable for Oklahoma's opioid crisis.

Editor's note: This story contains quotes and information originally discussed during a Twitter Spaces event hosted by NPR TV critic Eric Deggans and featuring NPR addiction correspondent Brian Mann, Dopesick book author Beth Macy, Dopesick series creator/showrunner Danny Strong and more.

Updated November 2, 2021 at 8:38 AM ET

A state judge in California ruled late Monday that four drug companies can't be held liable for that state's opioid epidemic. Communities had hoped for tens of billions of dollars in compensation to help ease the addiction crisis.

Attorneys representing four California counties argued the drug companies Allergan, Endo, Johnson & Johnson and Teva used false and misleading marketing to push up the sale of prescription opioids.

Updated October 28, 2021 at 6:08 PM ET

A misdemeanor criminal complaint of forcible touching has been filed against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who faces allegations he forcibly touched a female staff member.

This is the only criminal charge against Cuomo since he resigned under pressure in August, facing allegations of sexual harassment involving 11 women.

Updated October 27, 2021 at 5:56 PM ET

The Biden administration is rolling out a new coordinated strategy it hopes will slow the menacing rise in drug overdose deaths.

Many of the core ideas are still viewed as controversial in many parts of the U.S., including efforts to provide active drug users with clean syringes.

"We are willing to go places where our opinions and our tendencies have not allowed us to go [before]," Becerra said in an interview with NPR.

Johnson & Johnson is drawing criticism after using a controversial bankruptcy maneuver to block roughly 38,000 lawsuits linked to claims that its talc baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.

The health products giant used a quirk of Texas state law to spin off a new company called LTL, then dumped all its asbestos-related liabilities — including the avalanche of lawsuits — into the new firm.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

About 46,000 public employees in New York City still are not vaccinated - many of them first responders. And city officials now say they have just 10 days to get the shots.

Here's NPR's Brian Mann.

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