HARRISBURG – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania today announced the release of its most recent report, “Heroin: Combating this Growing Epidemic in PA,” which reflects testimony collected during a second round of statewide public hearings held in July and August.
Focusing on treatment and recovery services in Pennsylvania, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors and legislators heard from 40 experts, including treatment professionals, family, law enforcement officials, government officials, and educators, who presented testimony on a range of issues related to treatment and recovery services, and what could be done to help addicts get the treatment they need.
“The Center’s work represents the most definitive report that’s been done by any state agency on the heroin epidemic plaguing the Commonwealth,” said Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of the Center’s Board of Directors. “Addiction is a chronic disease. It needs to be treated as such and not viewed as a moral deficiency or a matter of choice.”
The Center’s report summarizes the testimony from three public hearings held in July and August 2015 and includes the recommendations and policy considerations offered by the participants. Some of these include: recognizing that addiction is a disease and those suffering from this disease should be afforded proper treatment; requiring continuing medical education credits on pain management and prescribing practices of opioids for professionals licensed to prescribe in Pennsylvania; expanding the pilot program of early intervention through warm hand-off services statewide; establishing a uniform manner in which overdose deaths, and specifically heroin deaths, are reported and expanding the use of naloxone among local Pennsylvania police departments.
The Pennsylvania State Coroners Association reported that 2,489 individuals died from drug-related causes in 2014, a 20 percent increase from 2013. The association also reported that initial data for 2015 indicated the number of deaths would continue to increase.
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. It was created in 1987 under Act 16, the Rural Revitalization Act, to promote and sustain the vitality of Pennsylvania’s rural and small communities.
Barry Denk, Director
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania