POTTSVILLE, Pa. -- Schuylkill County has become the third county in the state to launch a program to help people dealing with substance abuse issues.
According to a 2018 study by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Schuylkill County had the most drug arrests among Class Four counties. Those classes are divided up by population.
This week, the county launched a drug-assistance program with hopes that number decreases by helping those who are fighting addiction with treatment.
"It's another tool that we're using to try and make sure that people get the help that they need if they want that help," said Schuylkill County District Attorney Mike O'Pake.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that Schuylkill County is the third county in the state to launch the PA LEAD initiative, a program designed to assist those who are suffering from substance abuse issues by introducing them to treatment.
The program aims to reduce deaths, overdoses, and crime associated with drug abuse, end the stigma associated with it, and strengthen the relationships between the community and its people.
"I've been a big proponent of making sure that we don't try to incarcerate everybody and arrest everybody. That's not the way to solve the drug problem in Schuylkill County or anywhere. We're still going to be tough on crime, but we're empathetic enough to realize that this is a disease that needs to be treated," O'Pake said.
If you're struggling with a drug problem, getting involved with this program is easier than you think. Walk into any police station around the county, find an officer, and simply tell them that you need some help.
"Walk into any police department or walk up to any police officer on the street and say, 'I need help for my problem. Can you lead me in the direction? Can you tell me where to go?' You cannot have an active warrant out for your arrest. If someone comes into a police station, they're not going to be insulated from crime or an arrest warrant or a bench warrant out for them," O'Pake explained.
The district attorney says several people have called his office about the program so that they can get assistance and start the road to recovery.