Lycoming College hosts opioid abuse hearing

Lycoming College is pleased to host a joint hearing of the House Republican Policy Committee and the House Democratic Policy Committee on the opioid abuse crisis in Pennsylvania Aug. 30, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.. The hearing is open to the public and will be held at the Mary L. Welch Honors Hall on the corner of Fourth and Basin Streets.

The hearing is one of several held throughout the state to gather testimony from law enforcement, medical professionals, treatment centers, employers, educators, advocates and everyday Pennsylvanians about the state’s drug epidemic and how it is impacting communities.

“Over the past decade, opioid addiction has become one of the most important public health concerns in the United States. A dear friend of mine recently lost his thirty-something son to an overdose, and the impact on the family has been devastating,” said Kent C. Trachte, president of Lycoming College. “It is critical that members of the general public learn more about this threat to public health, and that our government fund a multi-prong approach to tackling this crisis. I applaud Chairmen Benninghoff and Sturla, and Representative Wheeland for holding a hearing of the Joint Policy Committee on campus. Lycoming College stands ready to assist our state and community leaders as, together, we contend with the opiate crisis.”

Trachte also is the treasurer of Project Bald Eagle, a non-profit coalition that is leading efforts to stem the tide of the heroin epidemic through education, prevention, treatment, enforcement and data monitoring in Lycoming County. More information about Project Bald Eagle is available from its website: www.projectbaldeagle.com/about.htm.

Opioids are a class of drugs derived from or are pharmacologically similar to opiates. While they are effective pharmaceuticals for killing pain, they carry with them a significant risk of addiction. Some data suggest that 60 percent of prescription opioid deaths occur in patients with no history of substance abuse and who are prescribed an opioid by only one health care practitioner. In 2015, 3,383 Pennsylvanians died from overdose of drugs.

Testifiers at the public hearings will discuss the effectiveness of current strategies being used to combat addiction and what other tools, resources and services may be needed. At the conclusion of the state-wide tour, which ends Sept. 1, the joint committee will make legislative and policy recommendations for the House and Senate to consider when they reconvene this fall for a special legislative session.

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