More than 100 attend Kane forum on opioid addiction

Photo by Ted Lutz
By: 
Ted Lutz
Staff Writer

Photo caption  
These panelists spoke Sunday at a program at the Kane Area Community Center on the opioid addiction problem. The group includes, left to right, seated: Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer, McKean County district attorney; Angela Eckstrom, director of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services for McKean, Elk and Cameron counties; and Jennifer Schlieper and Courtney Gumpf of Flying Scooter Productions of Pittsburgh; standing: Tim Rooke, State Police trooper; Dean Robinson, street outreach specialist for the Light of Life Rescue Mission in Pittsburgh; Brandy Schimp, mayor of Kane; Glenn "GT" Thompson, congressman from Centre County; and Kate Kennedy Wadsworth, a 1998 graduate of Kane Area High School and assistant director of development for the Light of Life Rescue Mission.

The problem with opioid addiction isn't limited to larger inner cities.
It's a major issue — even in smaller communities such as Kane.
This point was made clear Sunday afternoon by a seven-member panel during a drug awareness program at the Kane Area Community Center.
More than 100 attended the event, which included the showing of the riveting documentary "Eye of the Needle." This 11-minute "real-life" video was filmed in Pittsburgh.
The panelists included U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Centre County), State Police Trooper Tim Rooke, McKean County District Attorney Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer and Angela Eckstrom, head of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services for McKean, Elk and Cameron counties.
Dean Robinson, the street outreach specialist for the Light of Life Rescue Mission in Pittsburgh, also served on the panel. He is featured in the documentary as he visits addicts and the homeless who reside in "camps."
Other panelists included Jennifer Schlieper and Courtney Gumpf of Flying Scooter Productions of Pittsburgh. Schlieper served as the director of the documentary and Gumpf is the producer.
Kate Kennedy Wadsworth, a 1998 graduate of Kane Area High School, served as the moderator for the panel. She is the assistant director of development for the Light of Life Rescue Mission.
In his remarks, Thompson called opioid abuse "the modern day plague."
"This is the public health crisis of our lifetime," he said. 
The congressman said the problem affects residents in "every zip code" in the state and nation.
"Addiction is such a demon," Thompson said "It's difficult to find a solution if we don't admit we have a problem."
Robinson, a recovering addict, said those who abuse drugs such as opioids "hang around with strange people" and show "quite a few symptoms."
He said family members should notice that loved ones are "different when they're on opioids," which are often used for pain management.
Robinson, who works on the "front line" of the drug abuse "battle" in Pittsburgh, praised the Kane community for its willingness to talk about the opioid problem.
"We opened a door," he said. "Keep the conversation going."
"It's powerful," he said. "It's going to consume us."
 "If we talk about it, maybe we'll find a solution."

For full article, check the Jan. 14, 2019 printed or e-edition of The Kane Republican

Category: