Confronting a Far-Ranging Crisis
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan agency that collects data and studies conditions and trends to assist the Pennsylvania legislature in developing policies. For the last several years, the center has conducted hearings with a broad spectrum
of people who work every day to combat the opioid crisis.
As a board member of the center, I’ve attended several of these hearings. All that I’ve heard is horrific and heartbreaking—the overdose deaths, the toll the crisis is taking on families, and the stress it has placed on first responders and the counseling
No portion of our population is immune. The crisis is about far more than gangs and drug dealers. It’s about people who are just like you and me. I daresay few families have not been affected by the struggles or the loss of a loved one.
That’s why you’ll find in this edition of IUP Magazine a lengthy article about the crisis and what our faculty members are doing to understand
it and make a positive difference.
From the hours upon hours of testimony I have heard on this topic, one thing is very clear to me. The opioid crisis is multifaceted and complex and must be approached from a wide variety of perspectives.
No one has found easy answers—not the health care community, not the law enforcement community, not the counseling community. The statistics you’ll see in the story are frightening. Drug addiction and dependency have numerous pathways, and the road to
recovery is a long one, peppered by stumbling blocks like stigma and misunderstanding. Along the way, many grandparents are forfeiting their retirement years to raise grandchildren, first responders are entering riskier emergency scenes, and the insurance
industry and the government are continuing to wrestle over the issues.
While the situation is grave, I am proud that members of my own university community are diligently researching the problem, confronting the issues, disseminating knowledge by creating partnerships, and reaching into the greater community to find solutions.