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Overcoming addiction in Pa. / Involuntary commitment


What to look for on this episode of Smart Talk:

Drug addiction affects thousands of Pennsylvanians every year. Emergency rooms across the state saw 13,499 opioid overdose-related visits in less than two years, from Jan. 1, 2018 to June 8, 2019. 

The Get Help Now hotline, which connects people experiencing addiction with treatment services, received 23,707 calls from Pennsylvanians during the same period. If you or someone you know is experiencing addiction, you can call the Get Help Now hotline at 1-800-662-HELP.

The death toll of drug overdoses remains high, even with opioid prescribers erring on the side of caution. There has been a 30% decrease in opioid prescriptions written per capita nationwide since 2012.

A local initiative is working to provide hope to people in recovery from addictionLancaster County Recovery Alliance aims to shift the conversation from the doom and disaster of opioid addiction to the possibility of recovery. 

Members of the alliance include people in recovery, friends and family of those in recovery, service providers, legal/law enforcement, church/faith-based organizations, corrections, the business community and other allies. 

Joining Smart Talk to discuss local resources for people in recovery are Brett Hambright, spokesperson for the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, Scott Theurer, a recovery specialist at the Opioid Center of Excellence at T.W. Ponessa & Associates Counseling Services in Lancaster who is in long-term recovery from addiction, James Severson, recovery specialist supervisor at Gate House Behavioral Health Services and vice chairman of the Lancaster County Recovery House Coalition, and Rachel Skinner, a recovery specialist in recovery herself and author of There is Hope.


(Left to right) Scott Theurer, Brett Hambright, James Severson, Rachel Skinner

Also, Transforming Health reporter Brett Sholtis joins Smart Talk. Sholtis has been traveling the state covering involuntary commitment, the legal process that can require individuals with severe mental disorders to undergo treatment. Join our discussion to hear about involuntary commitment policy in Pennsylvania.

Hear Brett’s story about one woman and her family’s challenges here.

For more on drug recovery and involuntary commitment — plus a deeper look at the changing tide of healthcare — check out WITF’s Transforming Health. Online at Transforming A partnership of WITF, WellSpan Health and Capital Blue Cross.

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Brett Sholtis