Report: 11 recommendations to end Pa.'s heroin crisis

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 8, 2015 4:35 AM

(Harrisburg) -- A new report from a state legislative agency is recommending 11 comprehensive changes to end the heroin crisis.

The recommendations cover a lot of topics - medical education, health insurance coverage, how coroners report overdoses, the use of naloxone, and mandatory minimum sentences, just to name a few.

State and local officials, law enforcement, and people who were addicted to heroin themselves offered the advice at hearings this year.

And each presents its own set of complications.

They're all contained in the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's second report on the heroin crisis.

At least 2,500 people died from drug overdoses in Pennsylvania in 2014, and some are expecting this year's total will be even higher.

Republican state Senator Gene Yaw of Bradford County says his top priority is getting everyone - treatment providers, state officials, faith groups, advocates - to work together.

"Territoriality is a problem, and I guess that's natural. Everybody wants to protect their own turf, they think that their program is the best one. It may be the best for certain things, but it's not the best for all things," says Yaw.

"I would start with some way to coordinate all the various programs that we have out there because remember I said right off the bat, one thing we found out - there are a lot of different programs. We need to coordinate them, to get them together so that they're not repetitive."

Yaw says if the work of many groups is better coordinated, they can address the crisis more effectively.

As for the next step - Yaw wouldn't directly speak to the chances the Legislature acts on the recommendations.

He says the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's goal was to raise awareness, and he believes they achieved it.

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