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Rising opioid abuse focus of Sept. 22 talk at Franklin Park church

Tony LaRussa
| Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, 4:48 p.m.

The FBI is playing host to a Sept. 22 summit at a Franklin Park church to discuss prescription opioid abuse and the growing use of heroin.

The agency's H.O.P.E. — Heroin Outreach Prevention and Education — program will feature representatives from the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office, the FBI, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and community stakeholders, according to Kelly K. Wesolosky, community outreach specialist for the FBI's Pittsburgh field office.

The summit is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 22 in the Cardinal DiNardo Center at SS. John and Paul Catholic Church.

The program is designed to draw attention to the problem heroin and other opioids present in the Pittsburgh region.

“The summit will include topics never before presented to the public, including the latest information on investigative trends in the Greater Pittsburgh region, testimonies from affected families and a real-time medical simulation of what really happens to an individual during an opioid overdose and a Narcan resuscitation,” Wesolosky said. “We invite people to join us to learn how to raise awareness, prevent abuse and assist those affected.”

Organizers are particularly interested in reaching out to youth sports coaches, parents, teachers, medical professionals, teens and young adults because the average age of a first-time prescription opioid user is between 12 and 17.

The FBI notes that the rate of deaths involving heroin in the Pittsburgh region has nearly tripled since 2010, and that four out of five new heroin users began by abusing prescription painkillers.

People who attend the event also will be able to dispose of unwanted prescription medications as part of a drug take-back initiative sponsored by the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office and the DEA.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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