State Senator Art Haywood, D-4th, released this statement regarding the opioid/heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania:

“On Wednesday I participated in a compelling Joint House and Senate Policy Hearing on Opioids at Temple Medical School in Philadelphia. This hearing came on the heels of my involvement with Governor Tom Wolf in an announcement of a Center of Excellence grant for Resources for Human Development in Norristown. The grant will be used to increase access to treatment for heroin/opioid abuse.

“Across Pennsylvania, over 3,300 lives have been lost in 2015 to opioid and heroin abuse. This is 20 percent more than 2014. The trend line is disturbing and it demonstrates that Pennsylvania is going in the wrong direction in dealing with this problem.

In Philadelphia, 702 lives were lost due to opioid overdose, while in Montgomery County 172 died. The fact is heroin and opioids are a leading cause of death in Pennsylvania.

“To combat the epidemic we need to employ remedies – recommended by experts – that have been proven to be effective: prevention, treatment and research. Limiting the prescription of opioid pain-killers, expanding access, extending the length of treatment and conducting research that may lead to further antidotes will save lives.

It is not only in connection with the opioid crisis that we should adopt a prevention, rehabilitation and research approach. In many of the social problems that our nation faces this model would be effective. All realize that we cannot adopt a ‘lock ‘em up’ policy in dealing with heroin and opioid abusers.

Senator Art Haywood represents the Fourth District, which covers parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties.  Senator Haywood is the Democratic Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, and is a member of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.