Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic will be the focus of a special Telephone Town Hall meeting set for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 21, according to Senator Scott Hutchinson.
Senator Hutchinson is urging area residents to participate in the event, which is part of a statewide effort to gather information on how the growing epidemic is affecting Pennsylvania and what can be done to save lives and battle addiction.
Those interested in taking part can sign up ahead of time at www.acommonwealthcrisis.com to receive a phone call a few moments before the town hall meeting begins. Individuals can also sign up by texting the keyword “talkheroin” to the number 828282. Audio streaming for the tele-town hall will also be available online.
“Addiction to heroin and opioids is playing havoc across Pennsylvania,” said Senator Hutchinson. “This tele-town hall meeting will provide participants with a comprehensive report on how deeply the opioid epidemic is impacting our local communities and the steps that groups and organizations are taking to address the addiction epidemic plaguing our state.”
The event will be hosted by Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a bipartisan, bicameral legislative research agency of the General Assembly. He will be joined by Dr. Brad Miller, Program Director and Director of Medical Education at the Williamsport Family Medicine Residency at UPMC Susquehanna Health, Andy Watson, Potter County District Attorney, Marie Plumer, Director of the Venango County Substance Abuse Office, and Barry Denk, Director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, to answer questions about heroin and opioid addiction and what the Legislature is doing to curb the use of these dangerous drugs.
Nearly 3,400 drug-related overdose deaths were reported in Pennsylvania in 2015, an increase of more than 23 percent over 2014. In approximately four out of five of those deaths, the presence of heroin or at least one opioid was reported.
During the 2016-17 legislative session, the General Assembly voted to include $15 million in the state budget to combat heroin and opioid addiction, including funds for emergency addiction treatment and behavioral health services. This funding is helping open new addiction treatment centers throughout the state, known as Centers for Excellence. It will also allow the state to draw down an additional $5.4 million in federal funding for an overall total of $20.4 million to combat opioid abuse.
New laws have recently been passed to help save lives in the event of a heroin and opioid overdose, as well as to combat the growing abuse and misuse of these dangerous drugs. They include providing legal protection for witnesses, or Good Samaritans, who offer medical help at the scene of an overdose; allowing naloxone, a synthetic drug that blocks opiate receptors in the nervous system, to be prescribed to a third party, such as a friend or family member, and administered by law enforcement and firefighters; limiting the number of opioids that may be prescribed by medical professionals to minors and to patients seeking treatment in emergency rooms, as well as requiring additional training by prescribers in the areas of pain management and opioid-prescribing practices.
For audio of the previous tele-town halls in other Pennsylvania regions visit www.acommonwealthcrisis.com.
Contact: Justin Leventry (717) 787-9684.