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Drug addiction down; demand for treatment high

Chuck Biedka
| Monday, March 20, 2006

There is good news and bad news about drug addiction in the Alle-Kiski Valley.

Officials say the overall rate of drug addiction is decreasing but the number of addicts still is so great that demand for treatment hasn't slowed down.

"We're not seeing a decline in the rate of admissions," said Dr. Neil Capretto, a Vandergrift native who is clinical director of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center.

Capretto is a main speaker at Thursday's Parents Against Drugs seminar sponsored by the Lower Burrell police department, the Allegheny-Kiski Health Foundation and Valley News Dispatch.

"There still is a tremendous amount of people who are addicted," Capretto said. While some parts of the area have a crack cocaine problem, heroin is the drug of choice for most of the region, he said.

Alcohol is also abused and people continue to use marijuana and misuse pills including the powerful pain-killer OxyContin.

Part of the reason may be the demographics of the region. There are large numbers of elderly people and blue-collar workers, he said.

Older people tend to have more medical problems ranging from arthritis to cancer and doctors prescribe OxyContin, Capretto said.

Doctors often order the pain-killers for factory and hospital workers because of frequent back pain.

Some of the pills find their way out of medicine chests into the hands of youngsters, he warned.

Among other things, Capretto will tell parents how they can identify addictive behavior in youngsters.

Other seminar participants include Kevin McLaughlin, a 43-year-old Lower Burrell man, who was formally addicted to cocaine and marijuana; Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck and Lower Burrell District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec.

Officer Derek Kotecki and police dog "Benny" will demonstrate how a K-9 team finds drugs.

Teachers will receive Act 48 credits for attending. Contact the foundation weekdays at 724-226-9996.

The Rotary will provide refreshments and participants will receive a Parents Against Drugs sticker. Additional Information:

Coming up

What: Parents against drugs.

When: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Burrell High School, 1021 Puckety Church Road.

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