Thursday, November 2, 2017

Town Hall Meeting Held to Discuss the Opioid Crisis in Schuylkill County

On Wednesday Night, the community came together for a town hall meeting to discuss the Opioid Crisis in Schuylkill County.

Over 100 Schuylkill County residents attended the event was hosted by the North Schuylkill School District,  in conjunction with Step Up Tamaqua.

Todd Zimmerman, of Step Up Tamaqua, organized the event.

Zimmerman, who has organized other similar events in Carbon and Schuylkill Counties said "When communities come together they can achieve dramatic results.  There is no silver bullet to stop the Opioid Crisis.  The problem needs to be attacked from all sides".

The goal of the event was to bring this issue to the people of the Mahanoy Area, North Schuylkill and Shenandoah Valley communities. 

The event also featured information from Safer Streets Tamaqua, Raiders Step Up, Schuylkill County Drug & Alcohol, Lehigh Valley Health Network, and Narcotics Anonymous.

The first hour of the event focused on addiction and government and what the government is doing to stop prescription drug abuse.

Jason Snyder, a deputy for the Department of Health and special assistant in overseeing the Goverment's response to the Opioid Crisis spoke for the hour. 

Focusing on the Government's response, Snyder talked about how overprescribing of medications from dentists, gynecologists, geriatric doctors, etc. have led to addiction.

Snyder also talked about the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program that helps identify individuals in active prescription. 

The program, which has now been active for just more than a year, has eliminated people that have attempted to get drugs from more than 10 different doctors and has dropped 86% for those individuals attempting to get drugs from 5 or more doctors.

Over 97,000 prescribers are currently within the database which also helps to identify pill mills.

Snyder also talked about Narcan and Act 139 and how the use of the opioid blocking drug has saved over 4,000 lives.  He also stressed that hardly any money that has been spent on Narcan has been purchased with taxpayer dollars.

Snyder also reported that fentanyl is currently the most used opioid, which is more powerful than heroine.  Schuylkill County ranked 15th out of 67 counties in 2016 in overdose deaths.

He shared his own personal experience with addiction on how him and his two brothers became addicts.  Both of Snyder's brother died as a result of their addiction. 

The second half of the event the Town Hall focused on the candidates for Schuylkill County District Attorney.

The incumbent, District Attorney Christine Holman and candidate Michael O'Pake fielded questions that were asked by members of Step Up Tamaqua.

Full video of the Forum between both candidates is below

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