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US Attorney Assembles Group To Address Growing Problem Of Opiate Overdoses

It's a problem that is lurking just below the surface in Pennsylvania, and it is getting worse every year.  

A group assembled by United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton will look for solutions to the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in the Pittsburgh area.

The U.S. Attorney’s Working Group on Addiction: Prevention, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery will work to identify the problems behind the alarming number of opiate overdoses in Western Pennsylvania and how to solve them.

“I’ve been in the field over 30 years in western Pennsylvania, and at this time, the problem with prescription drug abuse, heroin addiction and drug overdose deaths have never been worse in our community,” said group co-chair Neil Capretto. “Unfortunately, most signs indicate that these problems will continue to grow unless some important steps are taken.”

Clinical psychologist Michael Flaherty and Capretto, director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, gathered prominent figures in healthcare, addiction treatment, pharmacy, education and business to address the issues.

“Addiction is so pervasive that we really believe we need people with expertise from all parts of the community,” Capretto said. “This affects businesses in terms of their employees, their health insurance, work productivity and accidents on the workplace.”

The group met first on April 7, and divided its focus into three subcommittees: Community Outreach/Education, Treatmentm and Quality, Safety and Outcomes.

“We really want to look at, is the current demand for addiction treatment being met in western PA? And if not, what can we do about it?” Capretto said. “My personal opinion is that we’re falling way short of that right now.”

The group will bring recommendations to Hickton’s office within 60 to 90 days. 

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