McNeill hosts town hall on heroin and opioid addiction

WHITEHALL, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Daniel McNeill, D-Lehigh, today hosted government officials, medical experts and concerned citizens from across the Lehigh Valley at a town hall meeting on the heroin and opioid epidemic plaguing the area.

McNeill was joined by Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin; Lehigh County Sheriff Joe Hannah; Lehigh County Administrator for Drug and Alcohol Layne Turner; Lehigh County Chief Deputy Coroner Andrew Kehm; Toxicologist in Emergency Medicine for Lehigh Valley Health Network Dr. Matthew Cook; Devin Reaves from Young People in Recovery; Mary Ellen Jackson from HOPE (Heroin and Opioid Prevention Education); Denise Continenza from Communities That Care/Penn State Extension; Denise Jacobsen, a parent leader of the Lehigh Valley Parent and Family Support Group; and Nicholas Labar, a recovering addict and advocate for clean and sober living.

“Families across the Lehigh Valley are facing a battle every day to save the lives of their loved ones who are addicted to heroin or other opioids,” McNeill said. “I hope this meeting starts what will be the first of many steps toward ridding our neighborhoods of heroin, and I look forward to working with all concerned parties to begin solving these problems.”

McNeill said he was moved to take action on this issue after seeing how widespread this epidemic has become. According to data from the Pennsylvania Coroners Association, over the past five years, heroin and opioid abuse has claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 Pennsylvanians.

He also noted that in Pennsylvania, more adults ages 20 to 44 are dying from drug overdoses than motor vehicle accidents.

“Unfortunately, the number of heroin-related deaths and related crime continues to increase,” McNeill said. “Even though this is a statewide problem, we must work to attack this problem at the local level by getting the word out about prevention and getting those who need help with addiction into rehab.”