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State Officials List Details in Battle against Opioids

HARRISBURG, Pa. — One year ago, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a statewide declaration to battle the rise in opioid deaths. On Monday, state lea...

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- One year ago, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a statewide declaration to battle the rise in opioid deaths.

On Monday, state leaders gave a progress report and released details of a campaign to promote a 24-hour helpline.

A preliminary report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows opioid-related deaths in our state dropped 11 percent last year.

But state leaders say opioid addiction remains an epidemic in Pennsylvania.

The group that gathered Monday says the epidemic remains a crisis, but a crisis that may be contained.

"We've made significant strides to provide access to treatment, to curb the availability of opioids, and to inform individuals about how to access services," said Secretary Jennifer Smith, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Smith calls efforts to curb the opioid crisis relentless. Smith says that this year, the state will spend an additional $56 million on several programs, including drug education helping professionals in the field of addiction re-pay college loans, and creating a public service campaign to publicize a 24-hour drug hotline.

"We've learned from the front lines, from educators, law enforcement officer, judges, coroners, researchers, and community workers," said Ray Barishansky from the state Opioid Command Center.

State officials say their efforts to put the overdose reversal drug Narcan in the hands of enough police and emergency workers prevented 9,000 people from dying from an opioid overdose.

The group also say prescriptions for opioid painkillers were down by 24 percent last year.