Miller: Substance Abuse Forum huge success; many questions answered

MT. LEBANON, Nov. 29 – From dealing with the unique stresses and emotional turmoil of a loved one’s addiction, to the practical challenges many face in getting appropriate treatment, the Substance Abuse Forum held today by state Rep. Dan Miller delved deeply into navigating the road to recovery.

Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, said the free, five-session event at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Washington Road provided attendees with expert insights from more than a dozen panelists in the legal, medical, human services and drug addiction recovery fields.

“We envisioned this as a public service event where those impacted by the opioid and heroin crisis could learn more about the ‘Challenges to Recovery’ – with separate focuses on families, kids, crime and access to treatment – and it did not disappoint,” Miller said. “We set out to cover all the bases and provide useful information, and our panelists certainly delivered.”

Miller said the presence of state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who hosted the opening session with a discussion centered on the drug epidemic’s scope and what his office is doing to combat it, underscored the seriousness of the problem.

Shapiro said, “The opioid epidemic is the number one public health and public safety problem facing Pennsylvania, and it’s my top priority as attorney general. We lose 13 Pennsylvanians every day to this crisis. My office has arrested more than 1,400 drug dealers in 2017, and our arrests of doctors and others for illegally diverting prescription drugs are up nearly 50 percent. But, I know we cannot arrest our way out of this problem — we need to treat addiction as a disease and provide better access to treatment for those who seek it. That is why forums like the one that Representative Miller is hosting today are so important to help shed light on the challenges of recovery.”

Other panelists praised Miller for putting together the event as a way to educate the public and inform those most affected by addiction on how they or a loved one can get help and navigate a variety of related problems.

“It is critical that people with the disease of addiction be able to access treatment when they are ready for treatment,” said Jason Snyder, special assistant to the secretary of the state Department of Human Services. “That is why, under Governor Wolf’s leadership, we are working on so many initiatives aimed at not only increasing access to quality, evidence-based treatment, but also ensuring we’re doing everything we can to keep people engaged in the continuum of addiction treatment services.”

Fred Way, executive director of the Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences, said, “PARR is honored to be one of the panelists for Representative Miller’s Substance Abuse Forum, because knowing how to access treatment is the first step in the recovery process.”

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