If you think that you and your family are safe and protected from the dangers of the heroin epidemic, there are plenty of reasons to immediately rethink that notion.
In Chester County, twenty-four people died with heroin in their system last year alone. These local victims of a national epidemic were just like you and me. Their ages ranged from 21 to 79. Fourteen of the victims were men; the other ten were women. Eighteen of the people who died with heroin in their systems also had problems with prescription-drug abuse. In many cases, an addiction to prescription drugs led to experimentation with heroin. Heroin use cuts across any socio-economic boundary that we attempt to place upon it. It is an insidiously cheap drug to obtain, but some of our most famous and wealthy citizens have also fallen victim to its deadly grip.
As Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan warned when the alarming heroin statistics for 2013 were announced, “Heroin does not discriminate. It is a deadly drug that is abused by young and old, poor and rich, white and black.”
If you need additional cause for concern, know that heroin is available to young people in every school district in the county.
Know also that for every person who died from a heroin overdose last year, dozens more saw their families torn apart as they battled heroin addiction.
“Only two things will happen if you try heroin,” Hogan said. “Either you will overdose and die immediately, or you will become addicted and die slowly.”
If that thought isn't sobering enough, law enforcement officials revealed that fentanyl-laced heroin, a much more potent drug that was responsible for 20 overdose deaths in the western part of Pennsylvania is now available in the eastern part of the state. Some of that fentanyl-laced heroin has turned up in suburban Philadelphia.
Law enforcement officials are attacking the heroin epidemic head on by working collaboratively to arrest drug dealers. A prescription pill drop box program is expanding to prevent people from getting addicted to prescription drugs in the first place. State Sen. Dominic Pileggi and other lawmakers are pursuing Good Samaritan legislation that would grant a person immunity if he or she calls 911 if a friend overdoses. A new group, Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education, is starting a local chapter to provide assistance to local families.
Since we could all find ourselves as a victim of this epidemic, we all have a role to play in pushing back against this raging epidemic.
If you currently have an addiction, reach out for help. If you have a friend or loved one who needs help battling a heroin addiction, assist them.
What follows is a partial list of resources that are available. Most of these resources came from listings on the Kacie's Cause website and the Chester County Substance Abuse Services Directory.
Resources and information Heroin Helpline (866) 643-6144
Service is free, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls will be answered by a friendly, understanding and supportive counselor, who will explain several heroin addiction treatments.
The Family Training Program (215) 399-0980
Provides resources for parents of teens using heroin and other drugs, as well as practical skills and tools to help strengthen a relationship with a teen or young adult. Parents eligible to receive free training programs. www.iamconcerned.org.
National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (www.nrepp.samhsa.gov)
A searchable online registry of more than 300 interventions supporting substance abuse prevention and treatment. Connects public to intervention developers.
The Partnership at Drugfree.org (www.drugfree.org)
Assists parents in helping to prevent, intervene and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children.
Chester County Department of Drug and Alcohol Services (610) 344-6620
Provides information about local resources and community-based drug prevention efforts.
The Chester County Council on Addictive Diseases (866) 286-3767 or (610) 363-6164
Serves County residents in areas of substance abuse/abuse prevention,intervention and education; public safety and mental health services, as well as referrals.
Holcomb Behavioral Health Systems (610) 363-1488
A part of the Chimes Family of Services, the group provides a comprehensive range of mental health, behavioral health and substance abuse services for children, adolescents, families and adults throughout southern and central Pennsylvania.
A. Michael Blanche MSS LCSW
Provides counseling services for those with substance abuse and chemical dependencies. 21 W. Washington St., Suite B, West Chester, Pa. 19380. (610) 256-3400.
Outpatient Treatment Services
Chester Counseling Center, Phoenixville (610) 933-8880
Holcomb Associates, Inc., Kennett Square (610) 388-9225
Gaudenzia, Inc., West Chester (610) 429-1414
Gaudenzia, Inc., Coatesville (610) 383-9600
Center for Addictive Diseases, Exton (484) 565-1130
Countywide Advanced Treatment
Systems, Coatesville (610) 466-9250
Countywide Adolescent Treatment,
Downingtown (610) 518-6979
Rehab After Work/Rehab After School (800) 238-HELP (4357)
Treatment and Recovery
Bowling Green Brandywine (610) 268-3588
Provides a full spectrum of residential addiction treatment services. http://bowlinggreenbrandywine.crchealth.com.
Treatment Research Institute (215) 399-0980
Independent, non-profit research and development organization dedicated to science-driven reform of drug treatment and policy. www.triweb.trsearch.org.
Mirmont Treatment Center www.mainlinehealth.org/mirmont
Located in Lima, Pa., the Center has helped thousands begin journey from addiction to recovery over past 25 years.
Malvern Institute – Willow Grove (www.malverninstitute.com)
Opened in May, provides treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
Recovery Ranch (877) 628-2086
Located in Nashville, TN, the facility provides addiction treatment services, in programs designed to meet individual needs. www.recoveryranch.com.