Senator: Heroin addiction must be treated as chronic disease

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has released a second report on Pennsylvania’s heroin epidemic. The bipartisan legislative research group issued 11 recommendations based on 40 hours of testimony across the state.

The recommendations include restoring funding to counties for addiction treatment and recovery services as well as recognizing that addiction is a chronic disease that needs long-term care.

“If somebody has diabetes, you don’t send them away for 30 days or 60 days and they come back fixed. Drug addiction is the same problem. It is a lifelong problem and it is a community problem,” said Senator Gene Yaw, chairman of the research group.

Senator John Wozniak has introduced legislation that would focus on early education and prevention.

“Education, awareness, knowledge equals prevention and the best thing we can do and probably the best bang for your dollar is to do what we can to prevent the use of heroin,” Wozniak said.

The report also recommends expanding the use of naloxone, the medicine that reverses opiate overdoses, to local police departments. To date, there have been 453 lives saved in Pennsylvania, 106 of those were in the Midstate.

“With these recommendations, we will be able to help Pennsylvania families, reduce deaths, reduce crime, and put the bad people behind bars,” Wozniak said. “I think that is what the public wants and hopefully we can accomplish that goal over the next few months with legislation.”

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