Governor Tom Corbett announced Friday he will form a working group to address the state’s growing opioid addiction and overdose situation.
Opioids are found in many prescription and illegal drugs, including heroin. Between 2009 and 2013, nearly 3,000 heroin-related overdose deaths were identified by county coroners in Pennsylvania, according to information from the governor’s office.
Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis has been appointed by the governor to lead the working group, which will be made up of government officials. The group will be tasked with holding a series of panel discussions around the state.
“We’ve seen a concerning correlation between opioid prescription drug abuse and heroin use,” Corbett said. “This is a problem that cuts across geographic, social and economic boundaries. It affects families from rural areas, to suburban areas, to our cities. And it is doing so at an increasingly alarming rate.”
In a statement, the governor said his plan is aimed at raising awareness about Pennsylvania’s growing opioid problem and discussing how healthcare, law enforcement and community groups can stem the problem.
“We need to educate our citizens, coordinate the enforcement of our laws and engage our communities to address this issue,” Corbett said. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, death from drug overdose is now the leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S., surpassing motor vehicle crashes.”