Groups will of­fer opi­oid ed­u­ca­tion work­shops

Wy­oming Val­ley Al­co­hol and Drug Ser­vices, the United Way of Wy­oming Val­ley and Geisinger North­east are team­ing up for new ini­tia­tive.

The Citizens' Voice - - Front Page - BY DENISE ALLABAUGH Staff Writer

WILKES-BARRE — The av­er­age age that drug users start ex­per­i­ment­ing with drugs has dropped to 11 or 12, said Ja­son Harlen, CEO of Wy­oming Val­ley Al­co­hol and Drug Ser­vices.

Harlen con­tin­ues to see many peo­ple ad­dicted to drugs, in­clud­ing opi­ates, heroin and pre­scrip­tion pain med­i­ca­tions.

The grow­ing re­gional opi­oid epi­demic has spurred a new pro­gram and part­ner­ship to fund and de­liver it.

Wy­oming Val­ley Al­co­hol and Drug Ser­vices has part­nered with the United Way of Wy­oming Val­ley and Geisinger North­east to of­fer free opi­oid preven­tion/ed­u­ca­tion work­shops to busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions through­out the area.

Harlen joined Bill Jones, pres­i­dent/CEO of the United Way of Wy­oming Val­ley; and Ron Beer, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer for Geisinger North­east to an­nounce the ini­tia­tive at a press con­fer­ence on Fri­day morn­ing at the United Way of­fice.

Staff from the Wy­oming Val­ley Al­co­hol and Drug Ser­vices will con­duct 60-90 minute work­shops at busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions and will pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about opi­oid ad­dic­tion and its signs and symp­toms as well as train­ing about how to ad­min­is­ter Nar­can, med­i­ca­tion that re­verses the ef­fects of a pre­scrip­tion opi­oid or heroin over­dose, Harlen said.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Wy­oming Val­ley Al­co­hol and Drug Ser­vices will pro­vide a free dose of the life-sav­ing Nar­can nasal spray to each busi­ness and or­ga­ni­za­tion that par­tic­i­pates in the pro­gram, he said.

The United Way of Wy­oming Val­ley will cover the cost of the opi­oid preven­tion work­shops, in­clud­ing Nar­can train­ing with fund­ing from a $30,000 grant pro­vided by Geisinger North­east.

“With the pro­gram that we are pro­vid­ing, it al­lows us to give some amaz­ing ed­u­ca­tion and knowl­edge to busi­nesses and com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions as far as the opi­oid epi­demic is con­cerned,” Harlen said. “Every one of us knows some­body who is af­fected by a drug ad­dic­tion, whether it be a fam­ily mem­ber, a friend or a fel­low em­ployee.”

Last year, a record to­tal of 140 peo­ple died of drug over­doses in Luzerne County. So far this year, there have been 97 con­firmed over­doses and five other sus­pected over­dose deaths are pend­ing tox­i­col­ogy re­sults, ac­cord­ing to Luzerne County Coroner’s of­fice.

“The cri­sis has gripped our com­mu­ni­ties, our county, our state and our en­tire coun­try,” Jones said.

When par­ents and other fam­ily mem­bers are ad­dicted to drugs, Jones said kids are at risk.

Ad­dic­tion un­der­mines a par­ent’s abil­ity to be em­ployed, care for their own health and to think clearly about car­ing for their chil­dren. A high per­cent­age of chil­dren en­ter the child wel­fare sys­tem as a re­sult of in­flu­ence of drugs and al­co­hol on their par­ents or pri­mary care­givers, he said.

“There is no one sin­gle so­lu­tion to this prob­lem but there needs to be a se­ries of so­lu­tions that can come to­gether and work to­gether to solve the cri­sis,” Jones said.

Pro­vid­ing a grant for the pro­gram is one of many ini­tia­tives Geisinger Health Sys­tem has been pur­su­ing to re­duce opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

A new out­pa­tient clinic for peo­ple suf­fer­ing from opi­oid ad­dic­tion re­cently opened at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre.

“Treat­ment and sup­port falls well within the scope of what we do at Geisinger but we look for com­mu­nity part­ners for ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness,” Beer said. “We be­lieve that by help­ing agen­cies such as the United Way, we can fun­da­men­tally change so­cial de­ter­mi­nants of health and we can per­ma­nently im­prove the health of our com­mu­nity.”

‘Every one of us knows some­body who is af­fected by a drug ad­dic­tion, whether it be a fam­ily mem­ber, a friend or a fel­low em­ployee.’ JA­SON HARLEN Wy­oming Val­ley Al­co­hol and Drug Ser­vices

WAR­REN RUDA / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Ron Beer of Geisinger North­east dis­cusses a new Ini­tia­tive to com­bat the re­gion’s opi­oid cri­sis. Seated from left are Ja­son Harlen of Wy­oming Val­ley Al­co­hol and Drug Ser­vices and Bill Jones of the United Way of Wy­oming Val­ley.

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