Officials meet in Scranton to discuss drug overdoses | WBRE/WYOU

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Pennsylvania is facing a drug abuse crisis, according to the top state official who oversees drug and alcohol programs in the Commonwealth.

State and local officials mused in Scranton on Friday to explore possible solutions to the problem.

The numbers tell a chilling tale, in 2020 in Lackawanna County, 80 people died from drug overdoses. In 2021, that number has grown to 113, and county officials say they expect to see that number increase this year.
The question they addressed today is: what more can be done to prevent more deaths?

Jen Smith, PA Department Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs, said: “Yes, we have certainly seen the number of overdose deaths increase during COVID and continue to increase, unfortunately.”

Jen Smith oversees drug and alcohol programs across the Commonwealth, she travels the state speaking with those on the front lines of the addiction crisis. On Friday, she met with officials from drug counseling, law enforcement, first responders, health care and the courts. Many here are members of a group called the Lackawanna Recovery Coalition.

“What we’re here today is to talk about ourselves what has worked really well and what we’ve learned during Covid in terms of the gaps that still exist. Where do we need to strengthen the service? Where do we need to add additional resources to really help people connect to the care they need. Smith said.

A specialized drug court has been in operation for some time, its mission is to treat, where possible, people struggling with addiction.

Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse said, “The reality is that for drug offenses, especially for those who are addicted, we need to change the mindset, say what can be done to change their behavior , to change their behavior, we have to talk about treatment. effective treatment. »

Everyone present at the meeting agreed that funding is needed to help strengthen addiction services.

Representative Bridget Kosierowski was also present at the meeting.

“At the state level, the best thing we can do is make resources and funding available. I’m on the opioid task force here in Pennsylvania, the numbers are staggering. Access to fentanyl and heroin is staggering and dangerous. The mortality rate is high. said Kosierowski.

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