DUNMORE, Pa. — On Monday, March 13, Penn State Worthington Scranton hosted the "Heroin Hits Home" event, a powerful presentation that shared some startling facts and statistics about heroin use in Lackawanna County, along with some touching stories of those who have lost their lives or loved ones to heroin.
In Lackawanna County alone, someone dies from a heroin overdose every three days, according to statistics shared by Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon, who has been spearheading the "Heroin Hits Home" effort and was a featured speaker at the campus’ event.
He wants to make more people aware of the devastating drug situation locally, help them realize how easy it is for someone to get caught up in drug addiction, and tell them how to recognize the signs of someone needing help.
“Eight out of 10 heroin users started their habit by using prescription pain killers,” he said. The statistic shows how someone can get addicted to heroin just by being prescribed a drug for chronic pain. Or, it could be a teen sneaking prescription pain kills prescribed for an older family member, and then getting addicted."
Another particularly unsettling statistic is that Pennsylvania is the third leading state in the nation for overall heroin deaths and the leading state for heroin-caused deaths in young men between the ages of 19-25 years old.
In addition to that, Northeastern Pennsylvania is a prime location for the illegal drug trade because of its access to several major highways, such as the PA Turnpike and Interstates 81, 380 and 84, and its proximity to large cities such as New York and Philadelphia.
By increasing awareness, Scanlon is hoping to erase the negative stigma surrounding drug addiction — that it is only a certain type of person who is susceptible.
This epidemic is affecting individuals of all ages, backgrounds, socio-economic groups and walks of life, he said. The best way to fight the problem is to acknowledge it and take steps to combat it, he told those in attendance.
He also praised the efforts of the Lackawanna County Drug Treatment Court, saying that it has had a great success rate in treating drug addicts by providing treatment and an 18-month program, as opposed to simply jailing them.
Joining Scanlon in the presentation was Joe Kane, L.S.W., a recovering drug addict and clinical administrator at Clearbrook Treatment Centers, who spoke about his own battle with drug addiction and the struggles he faced to overcome it.
His addiction didn’t just affect him, he said. It also impacted his family in negative ways, something it was clear he regretted. After several stints in rehab, he was able to successfully complete a recovery program and now works with others going through the same battle that he did.
The "Heroin Hits Home" presentation at Penn State Worthington Scranton was attended by over 65 people, including faculty, staff, students and members of the community.
The Dunmore Police were also on hand to collect anyone's unwanted or outdated prescription medications, "no questions asked," as a way of preventing them from being abused or ending up in the wrong hands.