A recent study by the Pew Research Center revealed that adults in the U.S. now get more of their news from social media than from newspapers. This information disturbed me because of the unreliability of social media and the greater depth of information in newspapers.

A recent March issue of this newspaper brought this to mind. Three articles in the paper that day dealt with one of the most pressing issues of our time — the opioid crisis.

In the first article, Governor Wolf announced that he had signed the sixth renewal of his 90 day opioid disaster declaration in which he noted that Pennsylvanians are still suffering from the disease in epidemic proportions. The governor reported of progress in reducing deaths due to overdose, of lowering the number of opioids prescribed and increasing the number of people eligible for treatment. He particularly commented on the successful use of naxolone in overdose situations.

Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, said, “We need to continue getting patients into treatment, expanding treatment opportunities and saving lives.”

On page 2, there was an article stating that medicines for the treatment of opioid addiction were vastly underused in the U.S. It noted that there were nearly 48,000 deaths in 2017 involving opioids. Government approved medications include methadone, buprenorphine and naloxone. The article concludes with the statement that patients taking the medication fare better over the long term and are 50 percent less likely to die if they were on them.

Two of the medications, methadone and buprenorphine are low-dose opioids and some in the medical community or others; believe that it’s “just substituting one drug for another”. However the drug is too low to produce a high but will allow the patient to live a normal life.

Buprenorphine can only be prescribed by certain doctors who must complete eight hours of training while other health professionals will require a longer hours. Federal rules also cap the number of patients that can be treated to 275 per practioner.

The third article was a report by Waverly Police Chief, Dan Gelatt, who reported on police activities in the city for 2018. The department responded to 5,892 calls and filed 323 criminal charges. The most common offense was due to drug-related crimes which made up 100 of the 323.

The chief commented on the Naloxone program which was started in response to the opioid epidemic. Since the programs inception officers have administered Naloxone 25 times with 23 successful results — that’s 23 lives saved. A reliable source has informed me that none of the local Pennsylvania police departments carry Naloxone. Food for thought.

What have I learned from the three articles?

1. Governor Wolf and the state health authorities recognize that opioid addiction is of epidemic proportion and are concentrated on finding treatment and more importantly saving lives.

2. Medicine is available to treat opioid addiction but is vastly underused and that the number of medical professionals to administer the medicine should be increased.

3. Naloxone saves lives and should be carried by all police forces.

4. Support your local newspaper.

Try to get all of the above from social media.

David A. Fortune


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