State leaders to discuss pandemic’s impact on opioid crisis, resources

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Before the coronavirus pandemic, the state called the opioid epidemic the worst public health crisis in Pennsylvania, and the nation, in almost a generation. Even with COVID, opioid use and overdoses remain a focus of several state departments.

At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, state leaders will be hosting a virtual discussion about the impacts of the pandemic on the opioid crisis.

Members of the public can tune in on the Department of Health’s website and Facebook page.

Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection, Ray Barishansky, and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary, Jennifer Smith, are scheduled to speak.

The state Opioid Data Dashboard reports more than 4,300 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to overdoses in 2019.

So far between 2018 and 2020, more than 47,000 doses of nalaxone have been adminsitered by EMS, and there have been nearly 30,000 ER visits for opioid overdoses.

Pennsylvania is still in the middle of a three-year strategic plan to address the components of prevention, rescue, treatment, and recovery. That goes until 2023.

Many in the recovery community worry about the holidays, which is a time that can be particularly hard for those struggling with addiction and recovery.

State leaders will also be talking about resources during Tuesday’s press conference.

In the last two years, there have been more than 44,000 calls to the Get Help Now hotline.

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