BETHEL PARK (KDKA) — The opioid crisis is an epidemic that kills nearly 150 Americans every day, and communities around Pittsburgh are on the front lines of the fight.
The Christ United Methodist Church in Bethel Park was filled with people looking for solutions, seeking hope amid a crisis that many experts say could still get much worse.
“I had the best of intentions every single time that I said I was going to stop using drugs,” said Ashley Potts, who battled addiction for years. “I really believed I was going to stop using drugs. I didn’t want to use drugs. I couldn’t stop using drugs.”
Stories from people like Ashley Potts breathed life into a topic that was once taboo to talk about. The FBI Pittsburgh Hope Initiative stressed they are working on the investigative side, but also focused on outreach.
“Specifically, teenagers and middle school and sometimes even elementary school kids, too, make that decision to stay away from this,” said Kelly Wesolosky, director of the FBI Pittsburgh Hope Initiative.
While symposiums like this one are being held across the country, states are waiting on an anticipated emergency declaration by the Trump Administration.
“In reality, if it’s not attached to federal dollars, if it’s not something that’s going to help us increase beds, increase access to treatment, detoxification and so forth,” Rep. Dan Milker said, “then in reality, I’m not sure what it is besides an acknowledgement of what everyone already knows.”
“The federal government coming in and saying something or doing something would be great, but it’s not really going to make a difference,” Jeff Sipos with the Harmony Life Center said. “It’s the local politicians, it’s the local companies, the community efforts that are really going to combat this.”
The new federal opioid commission that was just formed says that an emergency declaration would force Congress to come up with funding and funnel that money into local communities.