Residents Urged to Take Part in Tele-Town Hall on Heroin/Opioid Crisis

Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic will be the focus of a third special Telephone Town Hall meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 10th from the State Capitol in Harrisburg, according to Senator Pat Browne, one of the hosts of this tele-town hall.

Area residents are urged to participate in the event, which is part of a statewide effort to gather information on how the growing epidemic is affecting Pennsylvania and its citizens and what can be done to save lives.

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 tele-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 at www.acommonwealthcrisis.com.

“I am pleased we are holding this tele-town hall in an effort to inform citizens of Pennsylvania about this growing epidemic,” Senator Browne said. “We are looking to speak directly to our constituents not only to inform them of the increased frequency of abuse with heroin and opioids, but also to hear their stories and get their suggestions and ideas about how best to combat this serious issue.”

Those who call into the tele-town hall will hear from experts from across the Commonwealth who will answer questions and discuss what the legislature is doing to curb the use of these dangerous drugs. The event will be moderated by Senator Gene Yaw, who has been appointed by the Republican Caucus to lead this important effort.

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 previous legislative session, the General Assembly voted to include $15 million in the state budget to combat heroin and opioid abuse, including funds for emergency treatment and behavioral health services. This funding will help open new “Centers for Excellence” treatment centers throughout the state. 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 fight and treat opioid abuse.

New laws were also passed to provide legal protection for witnesses or Good Samaritans providing medical help at the scene of an overdose and to allow naloxone (brand name Narcan), 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.

For audio of the previous tele-town halls in other Pennsylvania regions, visit www.acommonwealthcrisis.com.

Contact:          Matt Moyer     (610) 821-8468