After spending much of the previous two years dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, public health experts plan to refocus on answers to the opioid issue.
During the pandemic, drug overdose deaths have increased in the county, prompting the conference with leaders from healthcare, law enforcement, and local government.
“Isolation was a true result of the pandemic.” “Having relationships for people, especially in recovery, is extremely important,” said Alice Yoder, Lancaster General Hospital’s executive director of community health.
Lawmakers claimed their constituents told them that unemployment, as well as stimulus cheques that gave many people the money to buy more drugs, contributed to more individuals becoming addicted.
“These checks would be delivered to them.” They couldn’t spend them since they didn’t have anywhere to put them. Priscilla Eberly, who attended the meeting in place of State Rep. Dave Zimmerman, said, “A lot of people couldn’t obtain (access to) mental health” (R-Lancaster).
The opioid issue is the subject on which Sen. Toomey has spent the most time in his 12 years in the Senate, he said.
“The ubiquity of fentanyl combined with COVID lockdowns kind of upset so much of the progress we were making,” Toomey said. “Now I’m scared we’ve been headed in the wrong way for a short while.”
The medical community has been moving toward prescribing fewer opiate medicines for several years.
“A good preventative measure is to prescribe fewer opioids. Dr. Jon Lepley, medical director of Penn Medicine’s addiction medicine department, said, “We’ll see the benefits of it in ten years.”
According to scientists at the meeting, however, fentanyl is the leading cause of current overdoses. Because the people most likely to intentionally purchase illicit fentanyl are already addicted, preventative efforts will be ineffective.
“While we must continue to work on the supply side, this is essentially a demand-based issue,” Toomey stated. “We need to work with others to figure out ways to deter individuals from seeking out these dangerous medicines.”
Mental health care, according to Toomey, is critical in helping people recover from addiction. He wants to see a bill passed that connects Medicaid enrollees who overdose with treatment and alerts their healthcare professionals. He intends to have the bill passed before he leaves the Senate next year.