For those of us living in NEPA, it can be exciting when something nearby makes national headlines. One of the latest articles done by a major news outlet is not cause for excitement however. NBC News recently did a story on Wilkes-Barre PA, and the heroin epidemic taking place before our very eyes. In the video that is featured in the article, Patty and Christopher Emmet talk about losing their son Christopher Jr. to an accidental overdose in August of 2016. Christopher says that they attended fourteen funerals for their son’s friends in one year before he, himself passed in August of this past year. “Coping? There ain’t no coping. You don’t sleep, you try to go to work, you can’t work. Everybody says, ‘How you feeling?’ I’m here. Some days you’re good, some days you’re bad, but mostly bad,” says Patty Emmet. “He wasn’t an evil person. He was thinking good. He had a big heart, despite what people think. People only want to see one side. They don’t want to see the other side; you know? There were those guys that lived up in the woods, they were homeless, and he would fill up bags of our food and take it to them, because they didn’t have any food. See, I mean what kind of person would do that, I mean go two or three miles out of his way to bring food to someone who didn’t have any?” says Christopher Emmet of his late son.
Why has this area become so riddled with opiate addiction? According to some, part of the issue is the proximity to Philadelphia and New York City. Drugs can easily be purchased in either city and sold at a profit locally. Others say that citizens of Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas have lost hope in reviving the area, and some are turning to drugs to cope. Many lost their jobs during the recession in 2008, and although some have returned, the jobs are lower paying, and not what residents need to maintain their lifestyle. Many residents left, and those that have remained are “disappointed and resentful.” “I hate to use the cliché, but there are a lot of angry white guys in the region who 20 years ago were making decent money,” Kathy Bozinski of the United Way said. “Now they are struggling to pay the mortgage and have a good life. There is a lot of frustration.” Mary Wallace, who is the office administrator for the coroner’s office said, “It’s hard for people who have been here for generations, whose families are buried here, to pick up and move even if they might be better off somewhere else,” she said. “This is their home.”
Luzerne County Coroner William Lisman says, “Some weekends we will have five drug deaths in a weekend, and then it will be quiet for several days or a week or two.” He has seen victims of the heroin epidemic sweep across a broad spectrum of ages from teens to people in their 50s, and economic classes as well. Cathy Ryzner is a certified recovery specialist at Wyoming Valley Alcohol & Drug Services in Wilkes-Barre. She herself was addicted to heroin. It brings a “euphoria that masks any kind of hurt, any kind of feeling” and makes you feel like “superman…like you have superpowers. In reality, the addiction has taken hold. Heroin definitely has its hold on this area,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Every time you look in the newspaper and you see somebody died young and at home, you know. You know” Cathy is hopeful for the future, though. She herself is in recovery and has been clean for ten years, and knows it’s possible for others. Coroner Lisman talks about the rapid increase of opiate addiction and drug deaths and is concerned for what 2017 will bring. “Twenty years ago, we might have 12 deaths we determined to be drug deaths,” Lisman said. “This year we are on track for 150 deaths…By our standards, it’s off the charts.” The death rate last year was four times higher than that of NYC.
While no one can pinpoint just why this area has been so hard hit by opiate addiction, everyone agrees that it is vital to get those who are addicted into treatment. Mr. Lisman talks about cases where parents have died in front of children, or out on the street. It has become so routine that he no longer personally goes to each death that is called in. He has seen too much of it. “When a person dies from an opiate overdose, the heart slows down and the lungs begin working harder and harder to compensate. Fluid builds up in the lungs and they end up what we describe as drowning in their own fluid,” he told NBC News. He hopes that this year the death rate at least plateaus. Now, more than ever it is critical that those facing heroin and opiate addiction receive immediate help.
If you would like to read the article by NBC News and watch the video, Click Here
Call Clearbrook For Opiate Addiction Treatment
Clearbrook is committed to helping those who are addicted, as well as offer support and education to the affected family members. For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been a leader in drug and alcohol dependency treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with heroin or opiate addiction, please seek help before it is too late. Heroin can kill you with just one dose. Even prescription opiates are becoming more and more dangerous, as many are counterfeit, laced with Fentanyl, and sold illicitly.
If you are tired of being trapped in the chains of opiate addiction, please call our Admissions Specialists now! They are available 24 hours a day and more than happy to help you begin the journey into recovery.