On January 20th, 2016, members of the New Vitae Wellness and Recovery staff attended a panel presentation at Lehigh Valley Health Network, Muhlenberg. The “Heroin: The New Suburban High” presentation shed light on the high rate of local heroin and other drug use as well as the importance of recovery supports within the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas.
Panel members included Secretary Gary Tennis from the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs; Jim Martin, District Attorney for Lehigh County; Bill Stauffer, from the Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance; Mallory Henry of the Caron Student Assistance Program; Louise Muzio and Joan Halucha from Recovery Adolescents and Family Treatment; Barett Wentworthy, from The Hope Factor; Layne Turner from Lehigh County Drug and Alcohol; and Tina Ralls, who emceed the event.
Several important facts surfaced throughout the conversation:
• Nationally, drug and alcohol use impacts 1 out of 4 families.
• Within the Lehigh Valley during 2015, it is believed that there were approximately 115 drug deaths. 35 of these deaths were likely the result of heroin use.
• Physicians need to use caution when writing scripts for opiates, as these prescription drugs can be easily misused. Prescription monitoring guidelines are forthcoming within the field, but it is estimated that 4 out of 5 people who use heroin started out using prescription drugs for pain.
• 23 Million Americans are currently in recovery from substance use.
• 67% of children and teens who use marijuana will use other drugs.
The evening was an eye-opening look at the prevalence of substance use and the challenges associated with recovery services. Throughout the conversation, the importance of hope and the challenges associated with changing the cycle of addiction were emphasized. A special thank you to all of the panel guest speakers for sharing your data and ideas!