It's very easy to look at someone who is addicted to heroin and say, "It's all their fault, after all, they chose to use the drug." But, here, on the brink of 2016, we have enough research to prove addiction is not the user's fault. It's a disease that lives within them. And here, on the brink of 2016, it's time to do something about it, even if it's just changing the way we think. Thankfully, this is something our government is taking steps to doing, along with putting legislation in place to fight back at a disease that is quickly taking so many live away.
In a story on pennlive.com, state Rep. Garth Everett says, "It is a disease. It's not necessarily a character flaw."
It's that type out outlook that is the first step in the drug epidemic plaguing our country. It's also the findings in a study by The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a bipartisan group that includes both House and Senate members, like Everett. The center's latest report on the drug crisis in Pennsylvania shows that addiction to opioid drugs, including heroin and prescription painkillers, like oxycontin and Vicodin, are the result of a medical condition, not a lifestyle choice.
The paper goes on to say that "State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming County, the chairman of the center, said an average of seven people per day are dying of overdoses in Pennsylvania."
That's 42 people a week.
Forcing those people into jail isn't working. And sending them to rehab for the standard 30 days isn't working either. In fact, the treatment period may need to extend to as little as 90 days in order to see results.
The state is looking to pilot programs to help those with addiction, as well as better education for medical professionals when it comes to prescribing opioid drugs. There are also talks of a minimum five-year sentence for heroin dealers. There have even been talks of urging the police to carry and use naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an overdose. The paper goes on to say that, "453 people across Pennsylvania have been saved since naloxone was made available to police within the past year or so. Still, it's not in use in many counties or parts of counties, and Yaw said some police departments refuse, probably due at least in part to misperceptions."
There are still miles to go, but talking about the problem and showing hard facts on the number of people loosing their lives to the disease is a start.
To help push that start along, Senator John Wozniak introduced legislation that would focus on early education and prevention."With these recommendations, we will be able to help Pennsylvania families, reduce deaths, reduce crime, and put the bad people behind bars," Wozniak tells abc27.com. "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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