Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Consortium for Addressing Heroin and Opioid Addiction to host community conversation with college students on the opioid epidemic

HARRISBURG, PA (October 17, 2017) – Following several town hall meetings throughout Dauphin County on the opioid and overdose crisis, Commissioners Jeff Haste, Mike Pries and George P. Hartwick, III, the county’s Drug and Alcohol Services Department and the Pennsylvania Consortium for Addressing Heroin and Opioid Addiction will host a listening session and community conversation with local college students.

The program will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Penn State Harrisburg, Room 210 in the Capital Union Building, 777 W. Harrisburg Pike, Middletown. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. No registration is required for this free program.

“The opioid epidemic does not discriminate, and it’s taking victims in the prime of their lives,” said Hartwick, who oversees the county’s Drug and Alcohol Services Department. “Our goal is to educate and inform college students about the danger of opiates and available treatment services but also to hear their concerns, stories and ideas. Working together, we can get college campuses and communities the help and support they need.”

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Since 1999, fatal overdoses have increased 167 percent for the general population and 224 percent among young adults aged 18 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Dauphin County, overdose deaths rose 23 percent last year, and heroin-related deaths have more than tripled since 2010.

“The reality is, the opioid epidemic is everywhere,” said Haste. “It’s taking so many lives – sadly, many of them young people. We want to hear from college students – what they’re seeing and how we can help.”

The program will include a panel discussion with addiction and recovery experts, law enforcement, college administrators and perspectives from families impacted by the disease of addiction and a question-and-answer session with the audience. Information on new funding for Dauphin County residents to access treatment, prevention and recovery support services, as well as naloxone access and training, will be covered as part of the program.

“It’s a story that’s become all too common: people losing their battle to addiction,” said Pries. “We hope by talking openly and honestly about the opioid crisis that we can save lives.”

This community conversation is part of the commissioners’ continuing efforts to combat the crisis. Last month, Dauphin County became one of the first counties in the state to take legal action against pharmaceutical companies that aggressively marketed addictive opioids such as oxycodone and fentanyl. The commissioners have retained Young, Ricchiuti, Caldwell & Heller, LLC to pursue a civil lawsuit on a contingency basis, meaning taxpayers will not be responsible for legal costs and the county will share in any money recovered. Monetary damages would go directly toward drug prevention and treatment.

Other steps the commissioners have taken to save lives include hiring two mobile care managers to respond to emergency room overdoses to secure treatment for those suffering from addiction, expanding the availability of medical treatments for addiction such as vivitrol, and working with area providers to reduce the waiting list for treatment.

If you or someone you love needs treatment, or if you have questions about this program, contact Dauphin County Drug & Alcohol Services at 717-635-2254 or drugsandalcohol@dauphinc.org.