We lose an average of four Delco residents per week to the overdose crisis facing our nation. Over 72,000 Americans died of an overdose last year and my son, Brendan, 23, was one of them. Families with a loved one suffering from substance use disorder do not know where to turn for help and when they turn to the county, the services provided are limited. Best medical practices are not universally endorsed or promoted adequately by our county government. There is no easy way for a family in need to discern a good sober living facility from one that is predatory. The county must provide families guidance through the maze of treatment methods and facilities. A county health department will work with local hospitals, treatment facilities and doctors to insure that adequate levels of care are available to meet the needs of those suffering from mental health and substance use disorder. Our loved ones should never be told that a bed is not available to them or a doctor certified in an area of treatment is not locally available. A county health department will insure that facilities are expanded and doctors are recruited to meet local needs. The county must adopt a response to the overdose crisis that emphasizes the saving of lives and harm reduction instead of law enforcement and the criminal justice system. The county must expand its drug, mental health and veterans’ courts and allow and support those in medication assisted recovery regimes to participate in these alternative courts. Prisoners must receive best practices mental health and addiction treatment services in order to save lives and reduce recidivism.
After Brendan’s death, my wife, Heather, and I co-founded a non-profit, the Opioid Crisis Action Network (OCAN), to research medical best practices, formulate a policy platform for their implementation, and inform candidates and the public about leaders who support our platform. 102 candidates nationwide endorsed our 5-point platform, 74 of them from PA. (See our website for our platform, candidates’ questionnaire and the list of candidates who endorsed our platform. Opioidcrisisactionnetwork.com) OCAN also raises funds to finance best practices treatment for those suffering from substance use disorder who cannot afford it.