In a series of roundtable discussions throughout the state of Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf made a stop in Monroe County to hear from local and state officials, on their struggles with the current heroin epidemic. His objective for the day was to learn what Monroe County was doing in terms of drug treatment and prevention, and what they need to combat the opioid crisis.
Wolf said, “I need to hear from people in the local areas, what’s going on and how they think we could do a better job countering this epidemic that’s affecting so many Pennsylvanians, so many families.”
While the discussion was led by State Senator Mario Scavello and State Representative Rosemary Brown, the Governor also received council from Jason Snyder, Communications Director for the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Pocono Medical Center’s Community and Government Relations department head, Geoffrey Roche.
Snyder, who lost two brothers to heroin overdoses and participated in an outpatient program for his own prescription painkiller addiction, reported on the substantially high number of overdoses in 2014, and projects 2015 and 2016 totals to exceed that. In describing the opioid epidemic, he said, “this is the worst public health crisis in the last 100 years,” and believes the over-prescription of medication is the cause of opioid drug addiction.
Policies within the Affordable Care Act require physicians to prescribe pain medications are being considered a main contributor to the addiction issue. These policies are tying the hands of doctors, generating fear of penalty and lower reimbursement. The control is no longer theirs, but rather in the hands of the government. How do we avoid over-prescription when those that lack knowledge of the disease have all of the power?
Head of Community and Government Relations of PMC, Geoffrey Roche touched upon this. “Hospitals want to do the right thing. We don’t want these patients, to be honest with you. We want them to be taken care of at the treatment facilities, and that’s the right place for them.”
The forum continued with others expressing their experiences, concerns and opinions on the matter. But what does it all boil down to? — Pennsylvania is a leading state in deaths caused by drug overdose, namely opioids. How do we create better practices? How and when do we begin educating our youth on the dangers of drug use? How do we prevent addicts from dying and getting the help that they need? Governor Wolf and his team have already started the conversation. Treating drug addiction has the disease it is, rather than a moral failing, is where we begin to bring about change.
For decades, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has treated heroin and prescription drug abuse as a disease; one of mind, body, and spirit. In doing so, we have had the privilege of witnessing miracles every day. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, know that we are here to help. Do not wait until it is too late. Our Admissions Specialists are available 24 hours a day. Call Clearbrook today.