Audie Cornish

If you've been watching the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on TV, you've probably seen it happen a few times already: Every few minutes, a fresh wave of brightly colored signs — bearing campaign slogans like "Stronger Together" or "Love Trumps Hate" — spreads across the convention floor like wildfire.

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Across the U.S., more than 20 million people abuse drugs or alcohol or both. Only about 1 in 10 is getting treatment.

People seeking treatment often have to wait weeks or months for help. The delays can jeopardize the chances they'll be able to recover from their addiction.

If you took a map of Chicago and put down a tack for each person shot last year, you'd need nearly 3,000 tacks.

Of those, 101 would be clustered in the neighborhood of East Garfield Park. That's where 15-year-old Jim Courtney-Clarks lives.

"To be honest, I really don't like it," Courtney-Clarks says. "Every time you look up somebody else is getting killed, and I never know if it's me or somebody I am really close to."

The protests in Chicago have been mostly peaceful. But it's not just about police. This is all happening against a backdrop of gang violence, including the recent killing of a 9-year-old boy who police say was apparently targeted because of his father's alleged gang ties.

These incidents are forcing difficult conversations between parents and kids. And for African-American families, the conversation hits close to home.

Every Thursday night you can find Nathan Fields making the rounds of Baltimore's red light district, known to locals as The Block.

An outreach worker with the Baltimore City Health Department, Fields, 55, is a welcome sight outside strip clubs like Circus, Club Harem and Jewel Box.

In the early evening before the clubs get busy, he talks with dancers, bouncers and anyone else passing by about preventing drug overdoses and how to stop the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

A suspected case of measles. A rabid fox on the loose. A recall of a dye used in tattoos. A drug epidemic that's claiming hundreds of lives.

Those are just a few of the problems that Dr. Leana Wen confronts in a typical week as the Baltimore City Health Commissioner. While they all have to be dealt with, it's clear that heroin is among Wen's gravest concerns. Right now, she's focused on stopping overdoses and saving lives.

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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