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Pennsylvania experienced a drop in fatal overdoses in 2018 — an 18% decrease. However, according to a report from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, there has been a decrease in some counties while the crisis has significantly increased in other parts of the commonwealth. 

Part 4 of Pennsylvania Public Media’s “Battling Opioids” television series focuses on new and current treatments. Viewers can hear personal stories of recovery from across the state in addition to an in-studio panel discussion moderated by Paola Giangiacomo. Senator Gene Yaw (R-23rd District) is one of five members on the panel.

“Battling Opioids” is a collaborative project of seven Pennsylvania of Public Media stations. Pennsylvania has one of the highest opioid overdose death rates in the nation. Every day, thousands of Pennsylvanians—mothers, and fathers, children, neighbors—struggle to overcome addiction. 

Public media has a unique potential to connect Pennsylvanians across boundaries, and, in an unprecedented collaboration, is doing just that. Local reporting and programming have covered the opioid crisis for years—but now public media are uniting to show how Pennsylvanians statewide are confronting the epidemic of heroin and prescription opioid abuse. 

Programming such as this can increase both awareness and empathy to reduce the stigma around opioid use, aid prevention, and help people find treatment. 

Segments of the program include: 

  • Blue Guardian program: Lehigh County’s Blue Guardian program pairs police with certified recovery specialists who visit individual’s within a few days of being revived by naloxone. The goal of this program is to offer support to families and to encourage those struggling with addiction to seek recovery programs. 

  • PROSPER: The PROSPER program is an early intervention program that works with children and their families to help young people avoid substance abuse and behavioral problems. 

  • Back On My Feet: Therapists and researchers agree that there are benefits of exercise, which can help individuals in recovery maintain their sobriety. Donald Davalos has struggled with substance use for more than 20 years. He recently discovered Back on My Feet, a national non-profit that serves people in recovery through organized running groups and other services. 

  • Neonatal NAS Program: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is a group of problems that occur in a newborn who was exposed to opiate drugs while in the mother's womb. NAS is a program created to help expecting mothers that are addicted to opioids.  

Panelists on the program include Senator Gene Yaw, who represents Pennsylvania’s 23rd Senatorial District. Senator Yaw is also the chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. 

Also on the panel is Jesse Miller is director of Drug and Alcohol Programs at Robinson Counseling Service Center of Wyoming Valley. Panelist John Jezick is a community recovery specialist with Treatment Trends in Allentown, and Cammie Anderson is a certified prevention specialist and student assistant program trainer. 

Maria Kolcharno is director of Addiction Services at The Wright Center for Community Health. Ms. Kolcharno also supervises the Healthy Moms and the Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence Program.

Battling Opioids Part 4 will air on Thursday evening, January 30 on Pennsylvania Public Television. Visit WVIA to watch parts 1-3 in the series.

To listen to the Battling Opioids Podcast, visit battlingopioids.org/podcasts.