Articles/Stories

Smallest state has biggest opioid plan

THE TIMES-TRIBUNE | By the Editorial Board | AUGUST 29, 2018

The opioid addiction epidemic continues to wreak havoc in unexpected ways, beyond the death toll of 72,000 in 2017.

In West Virginia, for example, public health authorities blame addiction for more than 1,000 new cases of acute hepatitis-A viral infections since March; the disease had been diminished by 95 percent nationally since the creation of a vaccine in 1996.

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Opioid Awareness Day brings large crowd to Kirby Park

THE CITIZEN’S VOICE | BY ERIC MARK | AUGUST 27, 2018

WILKES-BARRE — Opioid Awareness Day in Kirby Park on Sunday featured a message of hope mixed with warning about the dangers of the opioid epidemic that continues to plague the region and the nation.

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Herbal ‘opioid’ Kratom kills 2 in Pa.

PENN LIVE | BY JOHN LUCIEW | AUGUST 24, 2018

Police in Chester County, Pa., are sounding the alarm after two men died taking the legal supplement Kratom, known as the herbal opioid.

NBC-10 in Philly reports the two victims of the accidental kratom overdoses as Caleb Jonathan Sturgis of West Bradford Township and Ryan Jones of Caln Township.

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Opioid epidemic continues to drive record overdoses statewide

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE | BY RICH LORD | AUGUST 22, 2018

Pennsylvania last year continued to break records for fatal overdoses, with drug deaths reaching a level that almost doubled the 2014 figure, due largely to fentanyl and heroin, according to data released by the Drug Enforcement Administration late Tuesday.

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STOP Act will prevent opioid smuggling

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE | BY PAUL STEIDLER | AUGUST 21, 2018

One answer to your Aug. 16 editorial “Where Is The help? Opioids Have Taken A Huge Toll On Pennsylvania” is for Washington to enact commonsense legislation that will reduce the inflow of opioids from China.

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Epidemic has life of its own

CITIZENS’ VOICE | THE EDITORIAL BOARD | AUGUST 21, 2018

Startling new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrate that the opioid addiction epidemic will be even harder to stop than experts originally predicted. Due to the nature of addiction and market forces, the epidemic has assumed a life of its own.

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Epidemic haslife of its own

STANDARD-SPEAKER | OPINION | AUGUST 18, 2018 Startling new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrate that the opioid addiction epidemic will be even harder to stop than experts originally predicted. Due to the nature of addiction and...

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Vivitrol program meets goals after one year

OBSERVER-REPORTER | BY KATIE ANDERSON | AUGUST 17, 2018

One year after the Vivitrol Plus program began at the Washington County jail, 54 people have participated and not one of them has died from an overdose, according to Erich Curnow, director of clinical and case management services with the county’s Drug and Alcohol Commission.

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Panel sees trend from heroin to crack

ALTOONA MIRROR | BY SEAN SAURO | AUGUST 16, 2018

EBENSBURG — A trend away from heroin and toward crack cocaine might be part of the reason Cambria County’s overdose death rate has decreased, panelists at a public hearing were told Wednesday.

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Where is the help? Opioids have taken a huge toll on Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE | BY EDITORIAL BOARD | AUGUST 16, 2018

The good news, at least according to former Cleveland Clinic CEO Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, is that the opioid epidemic has “peaked.”

By that, the legendary cardiac surgeon means that, nationally, reforms in the way doctors prescribe highly addictive narcotics are having the desired effect of reducing the number of people being swept into the epidemic of opioid dependency.

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Long arc of opioid crisis

THE CITIZENS’ VOICE | THE EDITORIAL BOARD | AUGUST 13, 2018

The death toll continues to mount and the ancillary damage from the opioid addiction crisis continues to bore ever deeper into the society.

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Overdose death rate continues decline in Beaver County

THE TIMES ONLINE | BY KIRSTIN KENNEDY | JULY 30, 2018

Following a recent trend, the number of opioid overdose deaths in Beaver County continued to drop during the past few months, Coroner David Gabauer reported.

Between April, May and June, 11 overdose deaths were reported in Beaver County, a 57 percent decrease from the previous year.

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Overdose deaths on pace to equal last year’s record

CITIZENS’ VOICE | BY BOB KALINOWSKI | JULY 29, 2018

The number of drug overdoses in Luzerne County in 2018 is on pace to equal or surpass last year’s total of 151, which was a record.

As of Friday, there were 74 confirmed drug overdoses this year, while nine suspected overdoses were awaiting confirmation from toxicology tests, according to the Luzerne County Coroner’s Office.

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Helping the children of overdose victims

CITIZENS’ VOICE | BY DENISE ALLABAUGH | JULY 29, 2018

One of the biggest issues facing young children growing up in households affected by addiction is an inability to bond, says Jessy Miller, director of drug and alcohol programs at Children’s Service Center in Wilkes-Barre

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How lessons from HIV/AIDS crisis can apply to the opioid crisis

THE INQUIRER | BY DANIEL RAYMOND | JULY 27, 2018

Over the last year, I’ve seen a growing number of comparisons between the current overdose crisis and the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic three decades ago. The parallels are certainly striking: an escalating number of deaths, particularly among younger people; a sense of hard-hit communities feeling under siege; and a growing wave of new advocates demanding action and innovative solutions.

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How opioids reshape your brain, and what scientists are learning about addiction

PHILLY.COM | BY IAN HAYDON | JULY 26, 2018

None of us has the brain we were born with. Brains grow and adapt. This process, called neuroplasticity, doesn’t end when you step out of the classroom. Even habits — reaching for cookies when stressed out, keeping your head down during staff meetings — cut “trails” in the brain throughout life that can be hard to overcome.

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Memorial walk, festival mark impact of drug addiction

THE STANDARD-SPEAKER | BY VICKI TERWILLIGER | JULY 22, 2018

TAMAQUA — Although the sky was dark and the rain was heavy at times, supporters of the third annual Out of the Darkness Into the Light Overdose Awareness Festival and Memorial Candlelight Walk showed their commitment to the cause Saturday.

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Fighting the stigma of addiction

THE CITIZENS’ VOICE | BY MICHAEL P. BUFFER | JULY 22, 2018

After Matthew Swiderski died at 29 from an overdose Nov. 1, his family had a choice when writing his obituary.

His struggles with addiction could have remained a private family matter, but they chose to help remove the stigma around addiction by being forthcoming.

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Wolf releases guidelines on prescribing opioids to injured workers

THE MORNING CALL | BY STEVE ESACK | JULY 17, 2018

Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled new guidelines Monday for how opioids are prescribed in workers’ compensation cases.

But his critics in the Legislature and business community claim the prescription guidelines would be weak and unenforceable compared to a bill Wolf vetoed three months ago.

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Construction industry hit hard by opioid epidemic; builders sound alarm

THE MORNING CALL | BY LAURIE MASON SCHROEDER AND KAYLA DWYER

Construction workers employed by Joseph Miorelli and Co. will find a little something extra in their paychecks next week: A sticker with the message “Opioids: Warn me.”

Designed to prompt a conversation between construction workers and their doctors about addictive medication, the stickers are part of a statewide blitz aimed at an industry that’s losing an increasing number of members to the opioid crisis.

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Western Pennsylvania to get full-time federal prosecutor as part of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge

OBSERVER-REPORTER | BY KAREN MANSFIELD | JULY 12, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Scott W. Brady, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, announced “Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge” Thursday.

The program, known as Operation SOS, seeks to identify wholesale distribution networks and international and domestic suppliers and to reduce the supply of deadly synthetic opioids in high impact areas.

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Philadelphia hopes this 24-hour treatment center will save lives in the opioid crisis

PHILLY.COM | BY AUBREY WHELAN | JULY 11, 2018

Getting a person into addiction treatment often hinges on a single moment — when they feel ready to seek help.

But for people with opioid addiction, the pain of withdrawal means that moment can pass quickly, replaced by powerful urges to use again to make the misery stop. Waiting for a treatment center to open for the day may be out of the question. Detoxing in the waiting room at a crisis center or an emergency room, or trying to navigate treatment options while dealing with nausea, vomiting, craving and cramps, can squelch the strongest desire for sobriety.

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A national suicide crisis: It demands attention akin to the opioid epidemic

THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE | JULY 10, 2018

The suicide rate in the United States, which has been rising steadily in recent years, has reached the point of a national public health crisis.

The statistics released in early June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are alarming. They show that suicide rates have ticked upward from 1999 to 2016. There were 35,000 in 1999 and nearly 45,000 suicides in the United States in 2016. That was more than twice as many homicides in the country that year.

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Erie County drug deaths slowing in 2018

GO ERIE | BY MADELEINE O’NEILL | JULY 9, 2018

Erie County set a tragic record in 2017 when 124 people were lost to drug-related deaths.

The number topped the record, set in 2016, of 95 drug-related deaths.

But in 2018, the number of these deaths has so far dropped by about half, showing the first signs of a slowdown in years.

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$1.7 million in deadly fentanyl from China stopped from entering Pa.

PENNLIVE | BY JOHN LUCIEW | JULY 2, 2018

In the deadly opioid epidemic sweeping America, no substance is claiming more lives than the synthetic and cheap opioid called fentanyl, which can be ordered up mail-order from China.

But the U.S. effort to stop the fatal fentanyl flow from coming to America chalked up a major victory at the Port of Philadelphia late last week.

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A week on the front lines of the opioid battle

THE TIMES-TRIBUNE | BY JOSEPH KOHUT, TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER, CLAYTON OVER AND DAVID SINGLETON | JULY 2, 2018

More than 115 people are expected to die today across the United States after overdosing on heroin or another opioid, casualties of a still-growing opiate addiction crisis that killed a record 42,249 individuals in 2016 and could claim a half-million lives over the next decade.

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Pittsburgh hospitals keep moms with opioid-dependent babies

TRIBLIVE | BY WES VENTEICHER | JULY 2, 2018

UPMC has launched the second program in Pittsburgh to provide free rooms for mothers of babies born with opioid dependencies.

The grant-funded Parent Partnership Unit will provide six beds at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital where new mothers can stay with babies who otherwise would be placed in a neonatal intensive care unit, said Patty Genday, executive director of women’s services at the Oakland hospital.

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Drug take back boxes, van part of Susquehanna County efforts to combat opioid epidemic

THE TIMES-TRIBUNE | BY CLAYTON OVER | JULY 1, 2018

Getting unused prescription drugs off the streets is key to fighting the opioid epidemic. In rural Susquehanna County, a medication drugs drop box and drug take-back van helped officials make great inroads toward that goal. The van gave residents a more convenient way to dispose their medications. Using both tools, officials collected 446.5 pounds of unwanted medications in 2016. Their drug take-back van prompted officials in nearby Hazleton in Luzerne County to mirror their initiative. “It’s just another tool in the tool box to get the drugs out of the medicine cabinets,” said Paul Brenner, who launched Hazleton’s take-back van program.

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Extended care facility seeks to help drug addicts

THE TIMES-TRIBUNE | BY TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER | JULY 1, 2018

With a growing need for extended care facilities in rural areas to treat drug addicts, a Wyoming County father and daughter plan to open the Endless Mountain Extended Care. The intensive, inpatient program for men is the first of its kind in the county. Arianne Scheller, 38, a licensed counselor, teamed up with her father, Stephen Scheller, who began his fight to overcome addiction when she was in high school. “He came to me and said, you have the degree, I have the sobriety. Let’s do something,” she said.

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Information cards at pharmacies offer information for help with addiction

THE TIMES-TRIBUNE | BY JON O’CONNELL | JULY 1, 2018

It seemed like a missing link. People who pick up opioid prescriptions and syringe packages from their local pharmacies do not get any information about where to find immediate and long-term help for addiction. Michael Arcangeletti, a recovering addict clean for almost a decade and graduate student studying social work at Marywood University in Lackawanna County, is changing that.

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Gov. Wolf announces renewal of opioid disaster declaration

PENNLIVE | BY PAUL VIGNA | JUNE 29, 2018

Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday announced the second renewal of his 90-day opioid disaster declaration, which was introduced in January, renewed in April and set to expire July 4. The renewal allows for the initiatives introduced in the past 180 days to continue without interruption, according to a press release.

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Here’s how not to combat the opioid epidemic

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE | BY JOHN GALLAGHER |JUNE 28, 2018

The Pennsylvania Legislature has introduced 17 bills this session aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic. While some new laws resulting from this flurry of legislation appear to be making a difference, the passage of Senate Bill 655 could have dire consequences for patients.

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Pa. led country in unreported opioid deaths, study finds

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE | BY CAROLINE S. ENGELMAYER | JUNE 27, 2018

A higher percentage of opioid-related deaths likely go uncounted in Pennsylvania than in any other state, a University of Pittsburgh study found.

The report, released Wednesday, concluded that 70,000 opioid-related deaths nationwide likely went unreported from 1999 to 2015 because, when some people died of opioid overdoses, coroners and medical examiners recorded the cause of death as “unspecified” drugs rather than opioids.

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Crime watch group receives opioid overdose training

THE CITIZENS' VOICE | BY STEVE MOCARSKY | JUNE 26, 2018 WILKES-BARRE — Members of the North End Crime Watch group walked into their monthly meeting curious about how one goes about reversing an opioid overdose. They walked out with certificates showing they passed a...

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She was just out of rehab. She was excited about the future. Three hours later, she was dead.

PHILLY.COM | BY AUBREY WHELAN | JUNE 25, 2018

When Jessica Ney stopped by his office one morning in March, Joe Quinn thought she looked happier than he’d ever seen her. She’d just gotten out of rehab for her heroin addiction and couldn’t wait to get her life restarted, she told Quinn and other outreach workers at Pathways to Housing, the innovative Philadelphia program that helped her get a place to live even before she got sober.

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Confronting the opioid crisis: Neither sprint nor marathon, ‘it’s both’

THE MORNING CALL | BY KAYLA DWYER | JUNE 24, 2018

Every Monday morning for about an hour and a half, Pennsylvania’s Opioid Operations Command Center in Harrisburg floods with activity.

Dozens of state officials — from the departments of drug and alcohol, health and human services to public safety and law enforcement agencies — stream into an office of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

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