Battling Opioids

Tom Dann has now been in recovery from opioids for more than four years. He and his wife own and work together at Alleycat Quiltworks in Bellefonte.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Maintaining recovery from opioid use disorder can be incredibly difficult, but long-term recovery is possible. Learn more about what researchers, communities and government agencies are doing to treat opioid use disorder and support individuals in their recovery journey.

Tricia Stouch fights stigma by talking to groups about her daughter Pamela's addiction. She gave one of these talks recently at Schlow Centre Region Library in State College through the Share Your Opioid Story project.
Sam Newhouse / WPSU

Researchers agree that addiction is a disease. In this episode of Overcoming an Epidemic: Opioids in Pennsylvania, we'll look at how personal stories are being used to fight stigma. And how understanding genetics and the origin of the opioid epidemic might play a role in reducing stigma.

TRANSCRIPT:

Emily Reddy (Narrator) – If there’s one word that comes up over and over again when talking about the opioid crisis – and really any substance abuse issue – it’s STIGMA. Tricia Stouch knows all about it.

Narcan nasal spray
Anne Danahy / WPSU

By the time Jeanne Nearhoof, of Lycoming County, and her mother went to a naloxone distribution site Thursday, there wasn’t any left.

That site in Williamsport had run out of the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses. But, Nearhoof did leave with information about how to get it.

“It affects everyone," she said of opioid addiction. "It’s not just poor people or bad people. It’s everybody and anybody.”

That includes her family.

“It’s hell. It truly is hell," Nearhoof said. "It is definitely the devil’s drug.”

Narcan nasal spray
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania residents will be able to get free naloxone at nearly 80 locations across the state on Thursday, Dec. 13. That includes places in Blair, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Huntingdon and McKean counties.

Naloxone is a life-saving medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. 

The opioid epidemic has been described as the worst public health crisis in Pennsylvania.

Jason Snyder has both professional and personal experience with the battle against addiction. He is currently the regional director of outpatient services in Eastern Pennsylvania for Pinnacle Treatment Centers. Snyder previously served in the Wolf administration, where he oversaw the Governor’s Centers of Excellence.

This interview is a part of the statewide Battling Opioids project.

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna speaking with microphone
Min Xian / WPSU

 

Drug-related overdose deaths continue to climb nationwide. Pennsylvania declared the opioid epidemic a state of emergency at the beginning of this year.

 

In Elk County, in March 2017, Kaitlyn Buerk, 24, bought five bags of drugs from her sister Allison Miller and her cousin Theresa Sample, who had just gone to Pittsburgh and bought 20 bags of what they thought was heroin.

 

Group of walkers on a path
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Runners and walkers were cheered across the finish line at a recent charity run in South Williamsport. The goal was not only to win a half-marathon or 10K, but to raise money and awareness to counter addiction.

Among those cheering at the finish line was Dylan. He’ll have been sober for two years in November.

“Drug court changed my life. It saved my life,” he said.

Danielle Dormer at the WPSU studios.
Min Xian / WPSU

This episode of Take Note is part of "State of Emergency: Searching for solutions to Pennsylvania’s opioids epidemic." State of Emergency is a combined effort of newsrooms across the state to draw attention to programs, therapies and strategies that are actually showing promise in the fight against this public health crisis.