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Heroin tops list of Lebanon County's drug-rehab cases

Written by John Latimer, Lebanon Daily News | May 22, 2015 3:30 PM
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Photo by John Latimer, Lebanon Daily News

Jim Donmoyer, the executive director of the Lebanon County Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, gives his annual report to the Lebanon County commissioners on Thursday.

(Lebanon) -- A day after the announcement of Lebanon's largest drug bust in recent history, the executive director of the Lebanon County Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse delivered a sobering message to the Lebanon County commissioners on Thursday.

"Some of the things I want to make this board of commissioners aware of," Jim Donmoyer said at the outset of delivering his annual report, "everybody talks about and hears about the heroin epidemic. It is here in Lebanon County."

Donmoyer had the numbers to prove it.

Of the 570 clients who sought treatment for substance abuse last year, either through court order or their own volition, 245 were heroin addicts, he said. That was 19 more than the previous year.

A close second, with 213 clients, was alcohol addiction, which topped the list until two years ago. Marijuana (74), cocaine (22), and synthetic drugs (12) rounded out the top five.

"The (client) profile for our office is a Caucasian male, 24- to 29-years-old, whose primary drug of choice is heroin," he said.

Many abusers start out taking prescription painkillers, Donmoyer explained.

"They start off with opiate pain medication for whatever reason, whether it is legal or illegal use for that. And then, when those resources run out they turn to heroin, which is a cheaper opiate and easily attainable," he said.

Donmoyer's statement came less than 24-hours after the county's Drug Task Force announced the arrest of a Lebanon drug-ring responsible for distributing 60,000 bags of heroin a month for the past year.

The drug bust led to the arrest of 46-year-old ringleader Julio Aviles Sr. of 234 Lehman St., his 21-year-old son and nine others.

While the amount of heroin use is high in the county, there are a number of treatment options and programs, noted Donmoyer.

"We have our own detox facility here run by White Deer Run-New Perspectives. We also have a county rehabilitation center run by New Perspectives, and we also have a methadone clinic in our county," he said. "So we have a lot of resources to take this heroin epidemic head on."

Donmoyer told the commissioners he is hoping to add to the resources by tapping into the $5 million that Gov. Tom Wolfe has allocated for treating heroin addiction in his budget. If the county's grant application is approved it will receive $273,000.

The money must be used for a new program, and the one created in partnership with Pennsylvania Counseling Service would provide multiple support for recovering addicts and their families, Donmoyer said.

"Heroin addicts tend to be loners, tend to do their own thing. And sometimes that's how they go through treatment as well," he said. "What we would like to do through PCS, and some group, some family, some multi-system therapy for these people. Not only the client who is going through the addiction, but their family support members as well," he said.

Another development that will help addicts is the relocation of the White Deer Run-New Perspective's out-patient treatment center from its campus at 3030 Chestnut St. in North Cornwall, to 240 S. Eighth St. in Lebanon, near two of other drug treatment facilities, Donmoyer said.

"I think it is a great idea. I support it 100 percent," he said. "It will give the people of Lebanon County, most that we serve, an easier access to their services. We will have T.W. Ponessa a couple of blocks over, PCS a couple of blocks down. So we will have three main providers to our office in the city."

Donmoyer also announced a pilot program for Lebanon County prison inmates with substance abuse problems. Working with the Probation Department, he said, inmates with drug and alcohol problems who have short-term sentences, will be removed from the prison and placed into a treatment regimen.

In addition to helping the inmate, Donmoyer said, the program will help to reduce the overcrowded prison population and it will save the county from any associated cost of incarcerating the inmates because their treatment will be paid for by Medical Assistance.

One person has already been processed into the new program, Donmoyer said.

"We had a woman who was 34 weeks at the prison and we got her out of the prison and got her to the Advantage House to a rehabilitation bed. So, it works," he said.

Prior to Donmoyer's report, District Attorney David Arnold also had news related to the county's heroin problem.

Through a grant provided by Capital Blue Cross and administered by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the county will purchase naloxone kits used to combat the effects of heroin overdose. Administered by a nasal spray, the heroin-antagonist quickly reverses the often fatal symptoms of an overdose.

The kits will be distributed to the county Probation Department and any municipal police department that requests them, Arnold said. He did not have a figure on the cost of the naloxone kits or the amount of the grant, but said any extra money needed would come from his office's drug-fund and no county funds would be used. All officers will be trained in the use of the medication to absolve the county from any liability.


This article comes to us through a partnership between Lebanon Daily News and WITF.

Published in Lebanon, News

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