Opioid epidemic remains a serious issue even after the end of the Pa. emergency declaration

Written by on September 1, 2021

 Opioid epidemic remains a serious issue even after the end of the Pa. emergency declaration

By Hayden Mitman

September 1, 2021

FILE – This Feb. 19, 2013 file photo shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. A report found drug overdose deaths among U.S. teens inched up in 2015 after years of decline. The report was released on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

Joe Martellucci, the administrator of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Services for Lehigh County, said the opioid epidemic is far from over, despite the end of the state’s opioid emergency declaration. 

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“What it did is, it kept this epidemic in the forefront of people’s minds, and it really needs to be there,” he said of the declaration. 

Instead, Martellucci said the state’s emergency declaration should have been extended.

“It just makes things more difficult,” Martellucci said. “Some people might read this as ‘the declaration has now not been extended, so everything is okay.’ This is a major problem in Pennsylvania.”

Last year, more than 5,000 people died of drug overdoses throughout the state. 

The declaration made it easier for medical professionals to provide treatment for those struggling with addiction. It also expanded access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

Marellucci said that he hopes the end of the emergency declaration doesn’t mean that state support for local addiction programs will diminish. 

“I think we have a pretty good, robust system here in Lehigh County,” he said. 

The state health department says key programs will continue

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