Opioid addiction

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

The Centre County District Attorney’s office is investigating three suspected drug overdose deaths that happened in the past week. While the toxicology results are still pending, District Attorney Bernie Cantorna is warning the public about the risk of lethal drugs being sold.

“The reality is, for those who have a substance use disorder, I want them to be aware and I want them to be concerned that there may be drugs being sold that might take their life, and it might only be one injection that does so," Cantorna said.

Grandmother pushing grandson on swing
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Transcript

Anne Danahy (Narrator) – Much of the discussion on the opioid epidemic focuses on the people most affected: the ones who are abusing opioids. That makes sense because their lives have been swept up by addiction. But, their families shoulder the impact of the opioid epidemic too.

I’m Anne Danahy. This is “Overcoming an Epidemic: Opioids in Pennsylvania,” a WPSU podcast looking at what researchers, communities and government agencies are doing to try to treat and prevent opioid addiction.

[Doorway knocking]

A Penn State student died of an overdose earlier this year. Last Friday, the man who sold him those drugs received his sentence.
Min Xian / WPSU

A Penn State student died of an overdose earlier this year. On Friday, the man who sold him those drugs received his sentence.

William Denton, from Raleigh, NC, died of a multi-drug overdose in his campus dorm room in January. The 19-year-old Penn State sophomore had bought what he thought was heroin—but which an autopsy showed was a combination of drugs including methylfentanyl—from Mark Grover, of Verona, PA. Grover pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony of drug delivery resulting in death in October.

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 waiting room at Nature's Medicines in State College
Tyler Olson / WPSU

As medical marijuana dispensaries continue to open up across Pennsylvania, many first-time patients still don’t know what to expect from the process, and are anxious as they go through it.

“I was a little nervous because I just don’t know how it’ll work,” said Stephanie Darpino after purchasing medical marijuana for the first time at Nature’s Medicines in State College. “But everyone was so nice and it wasn’t … I don’t know like it’s a 'drug' kind of thing. Which I wasn’t sure if that’s how it would feel, but it didn’t feel like that at all.”

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna (middle) hosted a town hall in Philipsburg Tuesday night to address opioid addiction in the area. Cathy Arbogast (left) and Karlene Shugars (right) gave presentations as well.
Min Xian / WPSU

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.

Farmland on the outskirts of the Titusville School District (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)
Kevin McCorry / Keystone Crossroads

They contorted their faces in a howl. With eyes bulging, mouths twisted, veins popping, the Titusville High School senior class, cheerleaders screeching out orders, filled the gymnasium with frenzied intensity as they bellowed out the name of their school mascot, letter by letter — rattling the grandstands and reaching for their maximum decibel.

“What’s that spell?” a girl screamed.

“Rockets!” the seniors answered. “Rockets! Rockets!”

If you think heroin isn’t a concern in your community, think again. Experts now say every community in Pennsylvania has a heroin problem.  Pennsylvania now ranks 3rd in the nation for heroin use and 7th for overdose deaths. What’s behind these alarming statistics—and why are only a fraction of those who need treatment getting it? WPSU's Patty Satalia talks with psychiatrist Timothy Derstine, medical director of SunPointe Health Medication Assisted Treatment program.  Unlike many treatment programs, his requires psychosocial therapy in addition to prescribing medication.