How needle-exchange programs, sober bars are changing America’s addiction epidemic

Solutions journalism aims to find real answers to today’s problems

ORLANDO, Fla. – Like most big issues, ending deadly substance abuse in the U.S. does not have a single solution.

On Solutionaries, we have previously examined the stigma that comes with drug addiction and the nationwide overdose crisis we’re going through in this country.

In March 2023, the FDA approved Narcan — a naloxone nasal spray that can reverse the effects of a drug overdose.

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The move reignited the conversation around a ‘harm reduction approach’ to the opioid epidemic with some seeing programs hand out naloxone or operate needle-exchange services as a support system for drug users.

However, advocates of these programs argue they are saving lives.

The Solutionaries team got a firsthand look at this approach in Virginia.

Sober Bars

Addiction can be a lifelong battle and for people struggling to get sober, it comes with challenges and potential relapses.

This is something recovering alcoholics understand better than anyone which is why a pair of friends in San Antonio came together to create a solution.

You can read more about these two stories here.

Meantime, the sober bar movement is alive and well in Florida.

The BANDBOX bar offers spirit-free cocktails in 1920′s speakeasy venue (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

The BANDBOX in Orlando’s Ivanhoe Village is mixing up an alternative drinking experience with non-alcoholic cocktails and CBD beverages — all with a speakeasy atmosphere.

The BANDBOX bar offers spirit-free cocktails in 1920′s speakeasy venue (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Read more about BANDBOX here.

Hormone Therapy

In Florida, the transgender community is fighting a different drug battle.

Many adults trying to access hormone therapy and other medical care are worried that a new law aimed at hormone therapy will restrict access to those drugs.

Solutionaries Correspondent Erik Sandoval spoke with groups and individuals determined to support and care for transgender individuals in the face of these restrictive laws.

Note: This story discusses suicidal thoughts.

On Sept. 12, a federal judge ruled Florida’s new law aimed at hormone therapy for transgendered residents can remain in effect for now.

Opponents of the law had asked the judge to pause the law while their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality moved forward.

Read more about this update from Erik Sandoval here.

A new episode of Solutionaries is available every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.* on News 6 and on News 6+ for your smart TV (Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Google TV).

*Some of your favorite shows have a new time, and we’ve added even more entertainment to our programming lineup -- just for you. Read more here.

About the Author:

Katrina Scales is a producer for the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m. She also writes and voices the podcast Your Florida Daily. Katrina was born and raised in Brevard County and started her journalism career in radio before joining News 6 in June 2021.