Living Columns & Blogs

Town halls to focus on local opioid epidemic

Since January 2014, Centre County has lost an astounding 80 members of our community to drug overdoses. Eighty families have had their lives altered forever due to a preventable cause. Grandparents are raising their grandchildren because their son or daughter is battling a substance use disorder. There are parents who go to bed every night fearing that it will be the last day they will ever see or speak to their child. Our nation is experiencing an opioid epidemic and Centre County is not immune.

As a citizen of Centre County who has personally been affected by this disease, it is my belief that we need to make an effort to support the families and friends who are affected by substance use disorders. It is important that we bring awareness of this disease to the forefront and educate the public on what help is available for anyone who may be coping with a substance use disorder.

The Centre County Drug and Alcohol Office is a great resource for residents of the county who may be personally struggling or know someone who is battling a substance use disorder. Case managers are trained to help connect individuals with treatment options that are best suited for their needs. Take that first step by contacting the office at 355-6744 to discuss what services can be provided to you or a loved one. There are no legal ramifications to come forward and seek help and treatment for a substance use disorder. As a family member or friend seeking help for someone you love, you are not ruining their life - you are saving it.

As a victim advocate in the Centre County District Attorney’s Office, I have seen firsthand the toll on loved ones that this epidemic has caused. The lives of parents, children, extended family members and friends are forever changed by a preventable tragedy. I have witnessed the countless emotions that a person can go through after suffering such a loss. Laws are constantly changing and evolving with hopes to deter those who are involved in dealing these poisonous substances. What I have learned is no sentence handed down by a judge can replace a life lost.

The Centre County District Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Centre County Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative will be hosting two town hall meetings that are open to the public. Resources and information on prevention and education, as well as treatment and recovery support, will be available from several agencies during the event. Our main objective in hosting these meetings is to bring together concerned members of the community who have either been affected by or want to learn more about the epidemic facing our generation in a safe, open environment.

Dates and locations of the town hall meetings:

6:30-8:30 p.m. July 17, Philipsburg Middle School auditorium, 200 Short St.

6:30-8:30 p.m. July 31, American Philatelic Society in Sudman Hall, 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte

For more information, contact the Centre County District Attorney’s Office at 355-6735.

Lauren Miller is a victim witness advocate in the District Attorney’s Office.