Letter: Aug. 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day

To The Editor:

Letters1Drug overdose is a leading cause of accidental deaths in Pennsylvania. The rate of overdose deaths in the state has increased by 14% in recent years and is significantly higher than the national average. Government alone cannot fix what is wrong in society, but it does have an important role to play. The government can coordinate and connect systems so that there is less redundancy, more cooperation, and broader access.

The battle with addiction and the consequences endured by addicts and their families is a devastating reality for many of our friends and neighbors. Addiction is not a moral failing, it is a disease, and it needs to be treated as such. This disease has many causes and can best be treated if legislators, medical professionals, human service representatives, public health workers, faith and community leaders work together.

A common denominator shared by many individuals suffering from addiction is an inadequate treatment for mental health issues. We need to remove the stigma attached to mental health care and urge families to seek assistance. Increasing Child-Find services while providing early intervention and critical care as well as offering support to families, will go a long way towards educating the community that mental health struggles and addiction are diseases that require treatment.

Dependence on prescription medication is another common cause of broader drug addiction issues. We must collaborate with medical professionals to determine alternate methods of treatment for injury and illness that do not lead to addiction. Though, in our efforts to curb substance abuse and overdose, we must never forget those who live with chronic and severe pain and ensure that they are provided what they need to have a good quality of life. There is no simple fix. We need to act in a balanced way to provide services that are needed in ways that don’t cause harm.

With the many years of experience that I have as an advocate, I understand that government needs to partner with private sector, community, and faith-based organizations in order to develop and support change on a statewide level. Our friends in need deserve access to support that is non-judgmental, readily available and efficient. I believe that with the right support, and by working together we can reduce the use, abuse, and overdose of opioids in Pennsylvania.

Susan Rzucidlo

New Garden

Candidate for the PA House of Representatives

158th District

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