Grassroots effort targets drug addiction

In the two years since launching her organization targeted toward combatting drug addiction, Carolyn Miele feels as if she has helped make a difference.

“I think it has gone well,” Miele said of Saving Lives for Zachary.

A week doesn’t go by without someone not reaching out to her for help for themselves or someone else facing a drug addiction problem, she said.

The group meets once a month to discuss addiction, often bringing in speakers, including experts or others who discuss addiction or share stories of those impacted.

“It’s a growing problem in our area that people don’t understand,” she said.

Lycoming County, like many communities across the nation, has not escaped the opioid epidemic which has claimed thousands upon thousands of lives.

Miele’s own son died from a heroin overdose in 2016 at the age of 27.

That led her to launch Saving Lives for Zachary.

Miele said removing the stigma of addiction is part of the battle in fighting the drug problem.

“Addiction is so easy,” she said. “People take medications for pain and can’t get off it.”

Simply put, addiction can happen to anyone.

“I just think the most important thing is gaining that understanding that this can hit any family,” Miele said. “We need to educate ourselves about addiction. We need to be more loving and kind and understanding to each other.”

As a mid-wife, she’s seen increasing numbers of pregnant women using drugs and tried to get them help.

“A lot of them want help, but won’t (seek it) because of the stigma.”

The monthly meetings, held at the Trade and Transit Center, in Williamsport, often draw anywhere from 20 to 30 people.

But many more people are reached through the LiveStream of the meetings.

Some of the topics have included women and addiction and how babies are affected.

Miele likes the community support she has received for her group.

“I am going to continue to keep trying to bring education to the community,” she said.

She said she wants to focus a lot on preventing addiction with children.

And she looks to push forward to get the word out about the dangers of drugs.

Through her organization she has found it rewarding to help other people.

“We are definitely here to help,” she said.

More information on the group and upcoming meetings can be found at https://savinglivesforzachary.com/.