opioid crisis

Jim Hayden listens in a case presentation during one of the Project ECHO sessions intended to teach family practice doctors how to treat complex cases of opioid use disorder.
Min Xian / WPSU

Transcript:

Min Xian: Being able to access treatment where they live makes a huge difference for people with opioid use disorder. This is especially true for those in rural communities. Without having to travel for medication or counseling, recovery becomes much more realistic.

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

In this episode, we’ll talk about increasing treatment access in rural areas.

Suboxone is one of the medicines used as part of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Researchers say evidence-based treatments are still underutilized in the nation.
AP photo

A continuum of care is a network of resources to help people enter and stay in treatment. Learn more about how Pennsylvania is managing this process—known as a warm handoff—for treating people with opioid use disorder.

Transcript: 

Min Xian - When someone has a heart attack, they get rushed to the emergency room. When they stabilize, they meet with a cardiologist, who can help come up with a treatment plan.

They may be told to start on a medication, eat differently, or plan for a stay in the hospital. They set up an appointment to come back.

Hands of Pennsylvania state prison inmate discussing peer support program
Min Xian / WPSU

As part of the WPSU project “Overcoming an Epidemic: Opioids in Pennsylvania,” WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with six inmates at Rockview state prison in Centre County. The inmates are participants in the state Department of Corrections Certified Peer Specialist program or CPS, which trains them to provide peer support to other inmates. “Overcoming an Epidemic” is a WPSU multimedia project looking at what researchers, communities and government agencies are doing to try to treat and prevent opioid addiction. 

April Helsel holds a photo of her daughter, Katharine, who died of an opioid overdose three years ago, at the candlelight remembrance at the Centre County Courthouse on August 29, 2019.
Min Xian / WPSU

Centre County hosted a candlelight remembrance Thursday night to honor those who died of a drug overdose. The event is ahead of this Saturday’s International Overdose Awareness Day. 

April Helsel, a member of the county’s Heroin & Opioid Prevention & Education Initiative, lost her daughter, Katharine, three years ago to an opioid overdose. Helsel said it’s important to pay tribute to the lives that have been lost. 

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
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 Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg.
Adison Godfrey / WPSU

 

The first Veritas Film Festival continues through Thursday at the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg and the Ritz Theater in Clearfield.

Hollywood filmmaker Spencer Folmar grew up in the Philipsburg area. He returned to his hometown this week to bring the Veritas Film Festival to the community. Over the course of the past week, Veritas has screened a variety of films that Folmar said all share a common thread.

Ann Tickamyer, professor of sociology at Penn State, was one of the presenters at the 26th National Symposium on Family Issues. She says there's a lack of good policy for rural families and communities.
Min Xian / WPSU

Nearly three and a half million Pennsylvanians live in rural parts of the state. In many ways, rural areas face challenges different than those in urban areas. Researchers gathered on Monday for the 26th National Symposium on Family Issues at Penn State’s Nittany Lion Inn, with a focus this year on rural families and communities.

 

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.

In July, Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna hosted a town hall in Philipsburg addressing the prevention and treatment on opioid addiction.
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.

 

Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Penn., sponsored or co-sponsored four provisions to the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

The U. S. Senate passed sweeping legislation intended to combat the nation’s opioid crisis in a 99-1 vote on Monday evening.

The wide-ranging package known as the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 rolls up 70 bills that will advance research, treatment, awareness and recovery efforts related to opioid abuse that will be backed by about $5 billion in funding.

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.

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.

AP Photo/MichaelRubinkam

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — Colored bulbs cast an eerie blue glow in the restroom of a convenience store where people who inject heroin and other drugs have been seeking the relative privacy of the stalls to shoot up.

The blue lights are meant to discourage people from using drugs in store bathrooms by making it more difficult for them to see their veins. It's an idea that's been around for years but is getting a fresh look as a result of the nation's opioid epidemic.