Rally raises aware­ness of grow­ing opi­oid cri­sis

The Citizens' Voice - - LOCAL - BY ERIC MARK STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: emark@cit­i­zensvoice.com 570-821-2117

WILKES-BARRE — Dozens of re­cov­ery ad­vo­cates and ad­dicts in re­cov­ery ral­lied to raise aware­ness of the grow­ing opi­oid cri­sis in the re­gion and the na­tion on Satur­day.

The cit­i­zens group Ac­tion To­gether NEPA or­ga­nized the event, known as “Dy­ing to Be Heard,” at the Luzerne County Court­house, as part of Na­tional Re­cov­ery Month.

Speak­ers urged un­der­stand­ing of opi­oid ad­dic­tion as a dis­ease that needs ur­gent treat­ment be­fore it re­sults in death.

Don­ald Tay­lor of Wilkes-Barre spoke as one of the lucky sur­vivors.

Tay­lor said he fell into ad­dic­tion af­ter he suf­fered a bro­ken back in 2008 and was pre­scribed pow­er­ful opi­oid painkillers.

Af­ter the painkillers stopped work­ing, Tay­lor said he “was turned on to heroin.”

Af­ter years spent in and out of re­hab, Tay­lor nearly died in 2014, when he over­dosed and stopped breath­ing while in his car in Wilkes-Barre.

Tay­lor said a city po­lice of­fi­cer found him un­re­spon­sive, and saved his life by ad­min­is­ter­ing nalox­one, also known as Nar­can, a med­i­ca­tion used to block the ef­fects of opi­oids.

That was one of two times nalox­one saved his life, said Tay­lor, who de­scribed him­self as in long-term re­cov­ery.

It is im­por­tant to make peo­ple aware that nalox­one is a po­ten­tial life-saver that can be ob­tained over the counter, with­out a pre­scrip­tion, said phar­ma­cist Bruce Le­fkowitz, owner of Har­rold’s Phar­macy in Wilkes-Barre.

“It is avail­able to ev­ery­body,” said Le­fkowitz, who noted that many health in­sur­ance providers cover the cost of nalox­one.

Many in the au­di­ence of about 30 car­ried signs sup­port­ing those in re­cov­ery and their fam­i­lies. Some held pa­per masks over their faces to point out the large num­ber of “face­less” peo­ple who suc­cumb to ad­dic­tion.

Na­tional Re­cov­ery Month is held each Septem­ber, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease from Ac­tion To­gether NEPA, which de­scribes the group as “a grass­roots ac­tivist or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Any­one in need of help with opi­oid ad­dic­tion can call 877912-7534.


Sym­bol­iz­ing an over­dose death, Kate Ry­der lays on the ground in front of the Luzerne County Court­house on Satur­day dur­ing the ‘Dy­ing To Be Heard’ rally.


Bruce Le­fkowitz, a phar­ma­cist and owner of Har­rold’s Phar­macy in Wilkes-Barre, ad­dressed the im­por­tance of ob­tain­ing nalox­one.

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