LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — 91,799 — that's the number of people who died in 2020 due to drug-related overdoses, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
For Patrick Flynn of Scranton, that's 91,799 people too many.
"On a day like today, it's about remembering those that we lost to overdoses."
Flynn struggled with a prescription pill addiction throughout his twenties. After lying to himself and his family for so long, he says he decided to change his life for the better.
Now eight years sober, he dedicates his time to helping others struggling with addiction.
"It's always going to be there for me, but let me see if I can actually live a normal life without drugs and alcohol and a life of recovery, and it's worked out really well for me. Since then, a lot of great things have happened," Flynn said.
The opioid crisis has only grown in Pennsylvania.
A state government website reports more than 70,000 people were given Naloxone, also known as Narcan, by EMS crews from January 2018 to August 2022.
Dr. Kimberly Kabernagel, an addiction medicine specialist at Geisinger Marworth Treatment Center in Waverly, says these numbers will continue to rise as opioid consumption changes.
"Combination substances like sedative hypnotic opioids, methamphetamine have been a huge factor in overdose-related deaths. I think we really need to refocus on adjusting a major health concern, one that has really surpassed any other cause of death in this country."
With facilities like Marworth continuing to fight the opioid crisis, Flynn holds out hope. He says taking it one day at a time can open the door to a whole new life after addiction.
"The world is limitless. There's only one thing that I can't do in this world and that's drugs and alcohol. Everything else I can do. "
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