HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic will be the focus of a third special Telephone Town Hall meeting, to be held at 6:30PM on Tuesday, January 10th from the State Capitol in Harrisburg, according to Senator John Rafferty (R-44)
Senator Rafferty 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. It is the third of five ‘regional’ tele-town halls scheduled around the state in the coming months.
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.
The event will be hosted by Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), who chairs the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a bipartisan, bicameral legislative research agency of the General Assembly. He will be joined by Pennsylvania’s Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan, 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.
“Stemming the rise in heroin and opioid abuse will require a wide-ranging, community-wide effort,” Senator Rafferty added. “Working together, we need to find ways to combat this health care crisis. This tele-town hall is a major step in that direction.”
For audio of the previous tele-town halls in other Pennsylvania regions visit www.acommonwealthcrisis.com.
CONTACT: Ryan Boop (717) 787-1398