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701 Allegheny Street, Box 4
Jersey Shore, PA 17740
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Hon. Garth Everett
401 Irvis Office Building
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Harrisburg PA 17120-2084
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Center for Rural Pennsylvania Releases Report on Growing Heroin Epidemic
The graph shown here represents the increase of the use of heroin in the nation and the Commonwealth. 
– The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, which includes Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming) and is chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), released a report summarizing the findings of four statewide hearings held to examine the growing numbers of heroin and opioid-related deaths and arrests across Pennsylvania. Two of the findings highlighted support for legislation currently under consideration in the General Assembly: one bill that would provide immunity to an individual who contacts authorities in the event of a drug overdose and a second that would expand the types of drugs monitored under the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

The report lists additional items for consideration that were addressed by the more than 50 presenters, who included law enforcement officials, health care providers and family members who lost loved ones to heroin and other opioids. These items focused on the areas of education and prevention, law enforcement and treatment.

“This epidemic affects individuals of every age, gender, race and background,” said Yaw. “The increased use of heroin, which often has roots in the abuse of prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, has catapulted Pennsylvania to seventh in the nation for drug-related overdose deaths in the latest federal statistics.

“Right now we have a public health crisis facing rural Pennsylvania,” Yaw continued. “Although our focus was specifically on heroin use in rural Pennsylvania, we know addiction has no municipal, county or state boundaries. It is, across the board, a statewide and national epidemic impacting residents of every age, race, gender and socioeconomic background. Simply locking people behind bars is not the answer. We, as a state, need to do more.”

“The series of public hearings we conducted as a group on these issues was revealing and startling, with input coming from many sectors of our society, and I am grateful for the brave participation of all involved,” said Everett. “I agree with Chairman Yaw that we need substantive changes in the ways in which we approach these issues on a statewide level. I am honored to take part in this and I join in the effort to help improve our quality of life in rural Pennsylvania.”

Over a two-month period, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors, consisting of members of the House of Representatives, Senate, appointees by the governor and academia, joined legislators from across the state for the hearings. The hearing sites were selected to achieve geographic representation and perspectives reflecting the diversity of Pennsylvania.

Legislative action was urged by those who testified. Legislation mentioned included Senate Bill 1164, which would provide immunity to an individual who contacted authorities in the event of a drug overdose. To further strengthen this proposal, an amendment was offered to expand the accessibility of the opioid antidote drug, naloxone also known by the trade name Narcan. With this amendment, naloxone would be available to first responders such as law enforcement or fire department personnel. Health care professionals would also be able to provide a prescription for naloxone to persons at risk of an overdose, family members or an individual who may be in the position to assist a person who is suffering an overdose.

The hearings also identified the need to improve the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (Senate Bill 1180 and House Bill 1694,which are both pending in the respective chambers) to expand the types of drugs monitored under the existing system. Currently, data are collected for Level II controlled substances.

Three primary themes repeatedly mentioned during the hearings included: educating individuals to the dangers of opioid abuse; increasing the accessibility and availability for those seeking treatment; and providing law enforcement with the tools to help eradicate heroin from our communities.

The report is available on the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s website at, as well as links to the testimony from the public hearings.

Representative Garth D. Everett
84th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Raymond Smith
717.705.1834 /
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