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Officials: Education and awareness are keys in fighting heroin epidemic

Written by Susan Beam, York Daily Record / Sunday News | May 22, 2015 4:00 PM

(York) -- Education and awareness are key tools in fighting York County's heroin epidemic, elected York County officials told a crowd Thursday evening in Shrewsbury.

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Photo by Submitted to York Daily Record

Charlene Sciarretta has shared this framed photograph of her son, Danny, center in black, during a meeting recent meetings about heroin. Danny died of a heroin overdose on May 13, 2004 at the age of 26.The York County Heroin Task Force presented information about the heroin epidemic at Shrewsbury Elementary School on Thursday evening.

The York County Heroin Task Force presented the meeting at the Shrewsbury Elementary School. It was sponsored by the Southern York County Republican Club.

The presentation began with Shrewsbury resident Charlene Sciarretta sharing the story of her son, Danny, who died of a heroin overdose on May 13, 2004 at the age of 26.

Sciarretta described her son as everyone's "best friend" before urging audience members to "educate themselves" and educate their children about the devastating effects of the drug.

York County Coroner Pam Gay and Deputy Chief Coroner Claude Stabley illustrated the rising heroin problem within York County and educated the audience on common signs of heroin abuse, including behavioral changes and the presence of drug paraphernalia.

In 2013, there were 56 drug-related deaths in York County, with 17 attributed to heroin, Gay said. By comparison, 2014 saw a major increase, with 110 drug-related deaths and 62 deaths confirmed to be heroin-related.

So far this year, there have been 12 deaths related to heroin and three deaths suspected to be heroin-related. That number has decreased from this time last year, when there had been an estimated 21 heroin-related deaths by May 2014.

Southern Regional Police Chief Jim Boddington also addressed the audience, urging listeners to remove old prescription painkillers from their medicine cabinets and to deposit them in appropriate boxes at local police stations.

He advised community residents to work with local law enforcement in order to prevent the drug problem from escalating.

"Law enforcement does care," he said.

York County District Attorney Tom Kearney echoed Chief Boddington's sentiments by commenting: "We're more interested in saving lives than putting people in jail."

Kearney talked about recent changes in law enforcement relating to heroin incidents, including police officers being equipped with Narcan, an drug which reverses the effects of an overdose and has saved seven lives over just the past month.

During a subsequent question-and-answer session, audience members talked about needing more information about treatment options, funding and insurance information for addicts, and the importance of aftercare, including outpatient treatment and attendance at 12-step meetings.

Hope for Today 5K

Hope for Today will host a family day and 5K beginning at 10 a.m. May 30 at Kennard-Dale High School in Fawn Grove to raise awareness about recovery. For more information, visit the Facebook page at Hope for Today 5K.

Related 

York man sentenced to 10 years for heroin trafficking, US Attorney's office says

Heroin town meeting: Overdose drug available at local pharmacy


This article comes to us through a partnership betwene York Daily Record and WITF. 

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