Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna hosted a town hall in Philipsburg Tuesday night to address opioid addiction in the area. Cantorna and other presenters want to remove the stigma surrounding addiction and provide resources for help.
“Someone has asked, ‘How as a family member do I help someone to get help?’’ Cantorna read and answered questions on index cards near the end of the town hall.
He said it’s important to engage the community when it comes to combating the opioid crisis, because the issue often has ripple effects.
“It destroys families. It destroys communities,” Cantorna said. “So, it’s not just the individual – someone who’s died – it’s everybody around them.”
Presenters included Karlene Shugars, who talked about the scientific cause of addiction, different modes of prevention and resources available in the region. Shugars said addiction is a chronic disease and recovery is a long-term process.
“If we understand the science, we better understand recovery,” Shugars said. Her colleague from the Centre County Drug and Alcohol, Cathy Arbogast, nodded in agreement.
“Long-term recovery is possible,” Arbogast said.
Pennsylvania has the fourth highest rate of overdose deaths in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. Cantorna encouraged people to seek treatment, instead of ending up in the criminal justice system.
Centre County Commissioners Mike Pipe, Mark Higgins and Steven Dershem support the District Attorney’s effort. They attended the town hall meeting as well as State Rep. Scott Conklin.
The next town hall will be in Bellefonte on July 31st.