Rally raises awareness of growing opioid crisis
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.