Survey confirms opioid epidemic’s grip on our area

Interviews, statistics and figures involving  patient use rates in Lycoming County are the basis for the health needs assessment survey of UPMC/Susquehanna Health.

The results detailed to the Williamsport Rotary Club last week revealed – to no one’s surprise – that fighting substance abuse tops the list of health-related concerns locally.

That finding confirms what hundreds of news reports over recent years have indicated, that opioid addiction is impacting every corner of our community.

The survey cited possible strategies for battling the problem, such as continued support of Project Bald Eagle, a community awareness and drug education group, as well as community-level engagement in the fight against opiate abuse and better pain management resources.

We are fortunate in our community to have a mobilized front fighting the opiate abuse problem. It includes key entities in the community ranging from the health system to the religious community to local governments and social services as well as a high degree of volunteer involvement.

But still we see almost daily stories of tragedy that have their roots in opioid addiction that is touching all economic, social and cultural corners of our community.

That doesn’t mean the mobilized effort going on here is failing. But it does mean the struggle is never-ending and the mission to do more remains.

It also means that each of us – in our home, place of work and communuty – has to take individual responsibility for solving the problem.

We each have to find a way to do something beyond the organizational fight against opioid addiction. We each have to take up the mission to educate those susceptible to the addiction, especially but not limited to the youngest among us.

The best way to stop an addiction is to not let it get started. The allure of opiates is strong. Those susceptible to it need to be convinced that, beyond the striking entrance veneer, opiate addiction carries no future other than individual and family misery and destruction.

For some, it’s impossible to see behind that veneer until it is too late.

We all need to help the people we know in our circle of friends, family and daily contacts to resist that tempting but destructive veneer. We pray for the day when fighting substance abuse is not listed at the top of a local health needs survey.