Hearings on Pa. heroin epidemic to kick off in Hempfield
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Corrections will hold the first of three public hearings on the statewide heroin epidemic next week in Hempfield, according to Chairman Tim Krieger, R-Delmont.
Krieger has invited Gary Tennis, state secretary of drug and alcohol programs; district attorneys from Allegheny, Westmoreland, Indiana, Butler, Washington, Lawrence, Somerset and Cambria counties; and state and county narcotics investigators.
“One district attorney who is coming was eager to testify,” Krieger said. “This is not just a Westmoreland County problem. This is a very serious problem in Southwestern Pennsylvania. ”
Also testifying will be two recovering addicts who will explain to lawmakers how they became addicted to heroin.
“They've actually given me more insight than all the specialists,” Krieger said.
The other hearings will be held in Dauphin County and in the southeastern part of the state, he said.
“We need to better understand if Southwestern Pennsylvania is unique or not. We came to the conclusion that we need to understand the enemy better,” Krieger said.
The increased use of heroin, the rise in abuse of prescription pain medication and the resulting overdose deaths have triggered concern among treatment providers, health care specialists, law enforcement officials, school administrators and parents.
“How much of this is driven by abuse of prescription drugs? We need to understand that better,” Krieger said.
A number of community drug forums have been held since the Westmoreland coroner's office released statistics on the alarming number of overdoses in the county — 100 since January 2012. County officials established a task force to study the problem and make recommendations to reduce the number by 25 percent in three to four years.
Addicts are turning to heroin, which is cheap and potent, as a substitute for more expensive pain medications such as oxycodone and Vicodin that sell on the street for as much as $30 a pill, according to law enforcement officials. A dose of heroin, a powder sold in small packets, can fetch between $5 and $10.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that Pennsylvania has the third- highest heroin use rate in the nation, behind only California and Illinois.
Law enforcement and county coroners statewide report that heroin use is no longer confined to urban areas, and overdose deaths are rising in suburban and rural areas. Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in August that powerful Mexican heroin is the state's top drug problem.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at email@example.com.
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.
- Derry Township assault suspect arrested
- Entrapment, injury reported in Derry Township accident
- Fayette City man shoots himself before police could take him into custody
- Westmoreland County Prison to start video visits
- No foul play ruled in Westmoreland County train death
- Mt. Pleasant customers to see sewage bills increase
- Jeannette resident, 83, no longer teaches dance, still shows how it’s done
- 1 killed in Route 31 crash in East Huntingdon
- More than 100 participate in Scottdale triathlon
- Mt. Pleasant Relay for Life participants unfazed by rain
- 2 accused of stealing metal shavings from manufacturing site in Penn Township