In 2016 alone, we lost over 400 victims to the opioid epidemic in Allegheny County. It is time to move past just discussion in an effort to shed light on this problem; it’s time to act on it and move to prevention of opioid use in this area.
While working with the Sheriff’s Office, Tony collaborated with Sheriff (first name) Mullen to design a drug takeback program, Project D.U.M.P. (Disposal of Unused Medication Properly). The program not only attends community events to take in drugs, but the Sheriff assigned a deputy to do home pickups, and ensure safety and anonymity. As of December 2016, the project has secured nearly 1000 pounds of drugs, hoping to reduce the opportunity for current and potential users of these horrible and very addictive drugs.
This epidemic is not just in our district and not just in our city. This is a growing regional and national problem. As your councilman, I will reach across the city-county border and have our city officers assist and support such takeback programs in every zone of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Additionally, our community outreach officers will devise new curriculum in teaching our youth about the devastating effects of opioids.
While we cannot arrest our way out of this problem, I will encourage the PA Drug Court staff to revise and expand their program to ensure we are providing enough support to offenders that are looking to change their lifestyle and begin a path to sobriety. I support the use of prescriptions such as Vivitrol, which prevents overdosing and blocks opiate receptors in the brain. By expanding use of this drug, we can begin rehabilitating addicts in a much more efficient and successful manner.
While I do support the rehabilitation process for opioid abusers and believe they truly suffer from an addictive disease, it will be my first priority to ensure that our community is safe. I will discuss and encourage regulations to be placed on halfway, three-quarter houses and other clinics that promote sobriety. Our children will not be subjected to dealing with such facilities as they walk out of their schools and throughout our neighborhoods.