Illustrations by Ben Chlapek for inewsource
Illustrations by Ben Chlapek for inewsource

Sedated in San Diego

Years of devastation associated with heroin and prescription painkiller abuse recently spurred calls for action from President Barack Obama. To understand how the drugs have affected San Diego County, inewsource embarked on a deep examination of the data and stories behind the epidemic. Using years of overdose, hospitalization and prescription documentation from state and county agencies, this project describes the ruinous path that opioid addiction has carved through unsuspecting and unprepared communities.

Leo Castaneda wrote this story while participating in the California Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of the Center for Health Journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.


How opioid devastation caught San Diego County communities unaware

September 12, 2016

High school, 1997, was off to a great start for Mark Gagarin.

He had been bullied some in middle school, but he was determined that his time at Poway High was going to be different.

“I met this awesome girl, I was playing baseball. I had a lot of friends around me,” he said. He was hanging out with the cool kids, the ones who hung out in the quad.

Keep reading…


On the radio…

Hear the reporter discuss this story on KPBS Midday Edition:

On TV…

YouTube video


Explore the data


We’ll let you know when big things happen.