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Public hearing tackles ways to address opioid epidemic

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Happening today in Harrisburg a public hearing to address the opioid epidemic. Lawmakers, state officials and doctors will all be on hand. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has been holding these public hearings for close to five years; but Senator Gene Yaw, who chairs the agency, says this hearing will be unique.

The hearing will focus on the notion that opioid addiction is a type of neurological disorder. The Pennsylvania Secretary of Health and regional doctors, who are addictions specialists, will all be making presentations and examining how some countries in Europe have approached - what's become one of the worst public health crisis's our country has ever seen.

In France there's evidence their overdose rates have dropped by 80 percent in a matter of four years by increasing medication assistance treatment. Senator yaw says even though we've made some head way, it took us decades to get to this point and it will likely take us years to adequately address the issue, and he says it all starts with education.

"I think education leads to the removal of stigma,” Senator Yaw says. “stigma is huge; it overrides virtually everything, even some people's willingness to seek treatment."

Back in July the federal government awarded Pennsylvania a five million dollar grant to help tackle the issue. This mornings public hearing gets started at 10 o'clock.

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