Pa. health officials say opioid crisis still a big issue during COVID-19 pandemic

Pennsylvania

Among the topics of discussion are resources available to those struggling with the disease of addiction

Health, Medical Generic

Credit: SEAN GLADWELL/Moment/Getty Images

(WKBN) – With so much emphasis now on the resurging COVID-19 pandemic, health officials in Pennsylvania are urging people not to lose sight of another serious issue — substance abuse.

The head of the state’s Drug and Alcohol Programs said 12 people died each day last year, on average, from drug overdoses.

But they said efforts to isolate to stop the spread of COVID-19 could affect the ability of addicts trying to recover and stay sober.

“The sense of community during isolation has looked very different from traditional meetings and groups. Family, friends and peers are now an essential support network for all individuals but especially for an individual with substance use disorder,” said Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith.

December is typically a challenging month for many who struggle with the disease of addiction. Smith said it’s especially hard for those with substance abuse issues during the isolating nature of the pandemic.

Tuesday, health officials also discussed resources available to those struggling with the disease of addiction and stressed the need for people to carry naloxone, the opioid-reversal drug, if they know someone struggling with substance abuse.

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs maintains a toll-free helpline that connects callers looking for treatment options for themselves or a loved one to resources in their community. You can reach the Get Help Now helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The helpline is available 24/7 – including on Christmas Day.

An anonymous chat service offering the same information to individuals who may not be comfortable speaking on the phone is also available at www.ddap.pa.gov.

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