HARRISBURG – Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) voted to support the statewide disaster declaration to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic declared by Gov. Tom Wolf on Jan 10. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Council, of which he is a member, is required to approve all statewide declarations within 72 hours.
“There’s no debate about how devastating the opioid crisis has been in Pennsylvania – we all know people who have lost their lives and families that struggle in their absence,” Barrar said. “As we continue the fight against these powerful drugs, we must explore all solutions at both the state and national levels.”
Among the goals set by the administration to address the issue are enhancing coordination and data collection to bolster state and local response; improving tools for families, first responders and others to save lives; and speeding up and expanding access to treatment.
The governor’s declaration comes of the heels of the General Assembly’s passage of more than a dozen state laws aimed at stopping abuse before it starts though prescription limits and better education outreach, as well as efforts to increase the availability of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and improved treatment options.
More than 4,600 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to opioid overdose in 2016, and the 2017 statistics are expected to increase. The opioid crisis affects all groups of Pennsylvanians – not differentiating by race, region, religion, income or any other factor. Beyond the public health toll, opioids are straining prisons, the child welfare system and hospitals, and nationwide have cost more than $50 billion annually in treatment and lost productivity.