Town hall on opioid epidemic in Cumberland County features those in recovery

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The opioid and heroin epidemic continues to negatively impact Pennsylvania.

In 2016, there were 66 deaths related to overdoses in Cumberland County alone.

Coroner Charles Hall says this year is worse.

“We have had 69 so far this year,” Hall said. “We are on pace to have 90 by the end of 2017.”

Kristin Varner works with RASE Project in Cumberland County and has been in recovery for nearly 12 years, but she is not taking anything for granted.

“Taking part in town halls is helpful,” Varner said. “My behavior can become pretty raw if I am not focused on my recovery.”

The effects of the opioid epidemic were the topic of a town hall Monday night at the Upper Allen Township Building.

The event was hosted by the Upper Allen Woman’s Club GFWC and the Cumberland County Community Opiate Overdose Prevention coalition.

Jennifer Zampogna, who was on hand, was a successful dermatologist in Cumberland County, but she lost her license after pleading guilty to writing bogus prescriptions for painkillers.

“I hurt my neck in a motor vehicle accident,” Zampogna said. “Things just got out of control when I began writing prescriptions for family members so I could use them for myself.”

Zampogna says all of the media coverage and legal issues were stressful, but she has been determined to get back on the right path and stay there.

Panel members Monday night included Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed and representatives from Cumberland County’s Drug and Alcohol Services Department, local Emergency Medical Services, the Upper Allen Police Department, and the RASE Project.

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