WHY Are we making this podcast?



Our team is hard at work on Season Two, which drops fall 2019, but in the meantime we wanted to answer a question a lot of people ask us: Why are we making this podcast? Why make a podcast about solutions to the opioid epidemic?

On this bonus episode, we bring you excerpts from interviews that producers and co-hosts Anna Boiko-Weyrauch and Kye Norris did in October 2018 at KUOW with producer, Brie Ripley.



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Anna Boiko-Weyrauch: Hello. You’re listening to Finding Fixes. A podcast about solutions to the opioid epidemic. I’m Anna Boiko-Weyrauch. 

Our team is hard at work on Season Two. We are looking to release a whole batch of episodes later this year. And we’re going to look at what works to prevent addiction, expand treatment, help families of drug users, and keep people from dying of drug overdoses. We’ll have a short preview at the end of this episode.

In the meantime, we wanted to answer a question a lot of people ask us. Why are we making this podcast? 

So today, we’re bringing you excerpts from interviews producer Kye Norris and I did in October, 2018. We each sat down with our friend, Brie Ripley, who at the time was a producer at KUOW, Seattle’s NPR station (and where I also work as a reporter). 

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch (left) and Kyle Norris work on the first season of Finding Fixes at Anna's dining room table.   CREDIT: LEAH NASH,  leahnash.com  FOR FINDING FIXES >>

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch (left) and Kyle Norris work on the first season of Finding Fixes at Anna's dining room table.


Boiko-Weyrauch: Here are some clips from our conversations with Brie. She started by asking us where the idea for Finding Fixes came from. 

Brie Ripley: Was there ever a personal connection to telling this story? Do you know anybody that is enduring a struggle with addiction? Like I’m wondering why this story for you? Why finding solutions?

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch: For me it was that I was seeing opioids everywhere. So the last time I told this story I cried. 

Ripley: Oh. It's OK to cry with me I’ll probably ask you for a hug. You can say yes or no, it’s okay. I won’t be offended, but yeah. 

Boiko-Weyrauch: So, a few years ago I was living in Denver and I was working at a public television station. And a really nice woman named Helen who works in accounting. We were at a chili cook-off around this time of year and I had like seen her daughter around and I was like, ‘Oh is your daughter? And your son? Do you have a son?’ Like I couldn't remember, you know? And she was like, ‘Oh, I do have a son but he's no longer with us.’ And she was wearing a cardigan and she she like opened up her cardigan and she had a photo button of her son's face who died of a heroin overdose. And she became an advocate. You know, she would testify at the legislature and she was really involved. And then like fast forward a few years and I was doing some stories on the Washington State Convention Center, I was walking around downtown. And there was a woman with a syringe filled with a black substance who was in a doorway and was asking for water. So I brought her some water and I like crouched down and she was high. She was kind of incoherent. You know, she was still responsive. She wasn't overdosing but you know like she had you know like like how you're holding your pen right there and sort of she just like had she had this syringe and I was like, ‘Oh, what's that?’ ‘Oh I don't know.’ And it was—it was sad. It was really sad and it—and it struck me how pervasive it is—from being at a chili cook off to walking down the streets of Seattle, you just can’t escape. 

Boiko-Weyrauch: I'm lucky enough that nobody in my family or among my friends have overdosed or are on opioids that I know right now. You know, but maybe. Maybe they are. Maybe I—maybe I don't know. 

Ripley: Mm-hmm.

Boiko-Weyrauch: And so I wanted to have some sort of venue to explain and help people understand what's going on.

Ripley: Mm-hmm. 

Boiko-Weyrauch: And so then the project morphed to, ‘OK, well, how would this be different than any other reporting that's out there?’ And and I think the piece that I thought would be most useful is to actually look at solutions because again and again, in the stories that I read, it's about—here's the problem, here's the ripple effect from the problem, here's another population that's suffering, here's another way that people are suffering, the end. 

Ripley:  Mm-hmm.

Boiko-Weyrauch: And that’s frustrating to read and it's not terribly useful. I think in some ways.

Ripley: Mm-hmm. 

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch: And the more that I learn about this, the more that I see that there are solutions and there are different communities and different people who are working toward solutions. And the more I that I would talk to those people, the more that  I would find hope. And the more that I would find people that are really jazzed up about what they’re doing because, it turns out, addiction is a preventable treatable condition that people can recover from and go on to live very happy fruitful productive lives. But that is a part of the story that we don’t hear about and that I wanted people to hear more about. So that became a very big focus of this project is highlighting the voices of people in recovery and really focusing on—OK what are evidence-based solutions? How do they work? What do they look like?

Ripley: Who do you imagine is the person listening to the podcast? 

Boiko-Weyrauch: One person is somebody who has a family member or friend who has addiction and doesn't know what to do, you know, but wants to learn more about it—wants to understand. Another sort of profile is somebody who doesn't have a personal connection to somebody with addiction but has to deal with the ramifications of the opioid epidemic in their professional life. So for example, I talked to a city council member of a small town in Snohomish County and they were trying to figure out what to do. You know, people were using drugs dealing drugs downtown there were needles everywhere and they were like, ‘We don't really know what to do about it except to ban them from downtown. We're trying to figure out what to do.’

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch practices recording her voice for Season One of Finding Fixes in her home studio.   CREDIT: LEAH NASH,  leahnash.com  FOR FINDING FIXES >>

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch practices recording her voice for Season One of Finding Fixes in her home studio.


Boiko-Weyrauch: Producer Kyle Norris told Brie he wants to reach people in helping professions. 

Norris: Officers affected by this. Health care professionals who are bumping up against this. Medical providers bumping up against this. Social workers. So kind of people who are also in the loop, hopefully we can sort of shed light on this and they can learn some other things that are happening. It would be awesome to be of service to the professionals. And people struggling with addiction.

Ripley: Was there a solution you weren’t aware of before reporting?

Norris: I didn’t know much about this topic so it was all pretty new to me. Compassion, I guess would be the answer. 

Ripley: Can you speak more to me about that and where it shows up in the series?

Norris: Yeah, I mean even just like Episode One, right? The clinic, like the practitioners are not very judgemental. They’re very compassionate. You know, Jeff would ask people like, ‘When was the last time you did drugs?’ And people would be like, ‘A few hours ago, I did cocaine then I did meth, then I did—smoked pot and then I did…’ And I had never heard that. And Jeff just didn’t blink. And was like, ‘OK. I’m a little concerned ‘cause you did an upper and a downer. So let’s just keep your eye on, if you feel this, you should go to the ER.’ You know just kind of really compassionate advice. So that would be one way. Or even the police officers and social workers who I hung out with like there was just—I got the sense that they were talking to them like they would talk to someone they knew and loved. 

Ripley: What I’m curious about is what’s the function of hope when it comes to the opioid epidemic? 

Norris:  It would be too much, I think, without hope. And there is hope, people are changing. I mean, some of the people we followed have made huge changes. So I think hope always moves the story forward.

Boiko-Weyrauch: Without talking about what people are doing and what the solution is—if there is a solution, you know, if there is progress being made—which there is. I mean, at least, you know, small pockets. Like without covering that, you're not telling the whole story. So I wanted to tell the whole story. 

Ripley: Mm-hmm. 

Boiko-Weyrauch: You know, without talking to the people who have recovered. 

Ripley: Mm-hmm. 

Boiko-Weyrauch: You're not telling this whole story 

Boiko-Weyrauch: If you found Season One helpful or especially moving, please send us a message—or leave us a review on iTunes—it helps new listeners find us and we'd love to hear your story.

And now, some exciting updates. Eight new episodes are coming out this fall in Season Two. 

In this season we’re going to systematically walk through different solutions to the opioid epidemic—from keeping teens away from drugs, to helping families, to how to stop people from getting hurt or dying from opioids. We’re looking at prevention, family support, treatment, and harm reduction. We’re going to keep looking at addiction but we’re also looking at how to treat chronic pain and the scars from trauma. 

Here are some of the voices you’ll hear in Season Two. 

Becka Baker: And when he smacked me in the back of the head I saw red. And I was pissed. And when I opened my eyes and realized what was happening, I was hitting him with my bass. My eyes met his eyes like, ‘No, no, no, no.’

David Tauben: The marines have an expression—pain is weakness leaving the body. That is not what pain is. Pain is your body telling you you have to pay attention to something.

Joe Fuller: Kids basically say parents are the biggest influence in their life whether or not to use substances. Unfortunately parents often think that they have little-to-no influence. 

Shawna Laursen: You see addiction all the time and you see people with addiction at their very worst. And you know, a needle in your neck is kind of a big deal. 

Henriët Schapelhouman: You realize that normal people don't have conversations like this and do not laugh about looking for their children in the middle of the night which makes us laugh some more. 

Anna Boiko-Weyrauch: What did receiving that compassion teach you about yourself and caring for yourself?

Justina Bautheus: That I am worth it.

Boiko-Weyrauch: Cause you didn’t feel like you were worth it before?

Bauthues: Oh, definitely not. I definitely thought of myself as a second-class person for sure.

Boiko-Weyrauch: How do you think of yourself now?

Bauthues: I’m still learning who I am but I’m liking who I am. 

CREDITS: Finding Fixes is a project of Investigate West, a nonprofit journalism organization working in the public interest.

Financial support comes from the Philadelphia Foundation, Moccasin Lake Foundation, and listeners like you. If you’d like to join them and support this podcast, make a tax-deductible donation at findingfixes.com. 

The interviews for this episode were conducted by Brie Ripley. This episode was produced by Nicolle Galteland and me, Anna Boiko-Weyrauch. Music by Jake Weholt.

And thank YOU so much for listening.