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Lara Cooper

Picture of Giana  Magnoli

Two reporters who just spent six months covering the local impacts of the Affordable Care Act in Santa Barbara County reflect on their experience and lessons learned. They tell a story of health care providers struggling to provide quality care in the midst of much uncertainty.

Picture of Giana  Magnoli

Getting coverage for the uninsured is a big part of the federal health-care reform, which goes into effect Jan. 1. Those just getting insured could require a huge amount of care and referrals, which stands to overburden providers until the system stabilizes.

Picture of Giana  Magnoli

The challenges of serving the uninsured population (1 in 5 residents) of Santa Barbara County are many. Noozhawk.com reporters will examine changes or new challenges the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will bring to caring for this population.

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Because of San Francisco’s pharmaceutical dropoff pilot program, residents can now dispose of their medicines — for free — at 16 pharmacies and five police stations in the city. 

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For someone who has been addicted to prescription drugs for years, a way out may seem impossible. That’s what Lisa W. thought before entering treatment at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s Bethel House.

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Despite the walls put up by regulators to limit prescription drug abuse, those barriers are often just porous enough for a steady supply of opiates to end up on the street.

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Santa Barbara County law-enforcement officers have seen firsthand what prescription drug misuse and abuse can do to a person — physically, mentally and legally — since they not only investigate drug-related crimes but are often the first responders to the many medical emergencies involving overdoses.

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In the past, the study of addiction has often been focused on substances — like heroin, marijuana and alcohol. But experts in the field now believe that addiction begins with the “reward circuitry” in the brain rather than the substances themselves.

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Looking back, Rich Detty can’t say for sure whether his son, Cliff, was addicted to prescription medications. The drug abuse question and the true condition of his son’s mental illness still haunt him.

Picture of Bill Macfadyen

Alcoholism forced 20-year-old Amy to move away from Santa Barbara and everything she knew. She had begun drinking at age 16 and a pattern of dependence started soon after, forcing her into a succession of rehabilitation facilities before she moved to Oklahoma in an attempt to break the cycle.

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