Westmoreland County rally held to combat 'demon of drug addiction'
As Nicole Riffle, 25, of Greensburg listened to speakers talk of the fatal consequences of drug addiction on Saturday, she said she is dedicated to keeping herself free of drugs.
She first flirted with drugs seven years ago, she said. She became addicted to heroin through a former boyfriend and ended up addicted to Suboxone, a maintenance drug she was using to wean herself from heroin, she said.
She has been drug-free since Oct. 28, 2011, she said.
“You have to replace the bad people and places with good people” and rely on Narcotics Anonymous for help, said Riffle, who was among more than 250 people who gathered in Courthouse Square in Greensburg for an anti-drug rally sponsored by Sage's Army.
The community drug awareness group was founded by Carmen Capozzi in memory of his son Sage, 20, of Irwin, who died on March 5, 2012, of a drug overdose in a Hempfield motel room.
Programs like the rally and march raise awareness about the drug problem in the community and “cut back on the stigma of drug addiction,” said Tony Marcocci, a Westmoreland County narcotics detective for more than 20 years.
“These are good kids who come from good families who made a mistake, and it's a shame that it can be with them for the rest of their life,” Marcocci said.
To help battle the problem, parents need to know the signs of drug addiction, he said.
At its current rate, Westmoreland County is on pace to surpass its 2012 record of 78 drug overdose deaths by 40 percent, reaching 110 by the end of the year, Coroner Kenneth Bacha said last week. Twenty-seven of the 2012 overdoses involved heroin.
Westmoreland County has formed a drug and alcohol task force to attack the problem by getting together the various groups that are working to prevent drug abuse, county Commissioner Charles Anderson said.
The rally helps not only to educate the public about the drug problem, but to identify the sources for treating the problem, said Commissioner Tyler Courtney.
Capozzi, 47, devotes his energy to making people aware of the drug problem.
“We are still fighting the demon of drug addiction,” which begins with bad influences on young people and becomes a choice they make, he said.
“Have compassion for people suffering from the disease of addiction,” Capozzi said.
The county needs a court to handle drug-related offenses, which would focus on treatment, intervention and prevention, said Tim Phillips, director of Community Prevention Services of Westmoreland.
Phillips told the crowd that recovery is possible, but more money must be allocated to make treatment available to prevent relapses.
“No addict seeking recovery needs to die. People are literally dying, waiting for a bed” in a rehabilitation facility for a 90-day stay, he said. Addicts released from shorter stints “do the same damn thing over again,” sometimes with fatal results.
Ryan Rupert, 36, of Avonmore said he is a recovered addict who once used heroin and cocaine. He brought his 14-year-old daughter Morgan to the rally to make her aware of the problems of drug addiction, he said.
Rupert, who said he has been clean for three years and eight months, speaks at rehabilitation programs and drug awareness events.
“If I can help one other person, then I feel it (addiction) was not for nothing,” he said.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police gather in Ligonier for Perryopolis officer’s funeral
- Youngwood fire department reaches out to homeless family
- 11 Westmoreland inmates accused of setting fire put in solitary confinement
- Mt. Pleasant man charged with unlawful restraint
- Hempfield leaders kill zoning request for townhomes
- Catholic Diocese of Greensburg bestows $30K to combat poverty
- Plenty of ‘pain’ to share, as Westmoreland County budget OK’d with $8M in cuts
- Unity name excised from Latrobe parks, recreation
- Sewickley Twp. to pay $10K for service breach
- Demolition project at Oliver’s Pourhouse in Greensburg moves ahead
- New Stanton hopes to pick borough manager within next few weeks