PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – U.S. Attorney David Hickton has announced plans to form a group to develop and find solutions to the opiate overdose epidemic we have seen in our area.

The U.S. Attorney’s Working Group on Addiction, Prevention, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery will bring together many different view points from local citizens to parents to those who suffer with addiction to find a solution for this growing problem.

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Hickton chose Dr. Neil Capretto, medical director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, and Dr. Michael Flaherty, clinical psychologist, to co-chair the group.

“One of the reasons we have those two gentlemen, two of the leading experts in the region and in the country who can help us put together what I call the demand side effort of the problem,” Hickton said on the KDKA Afternoon News with Bill Rehkopf.

Capretto also joined the interview to discuss the goals they hope to see come out of this working group.

“Right now in Western Pennsylvania, the problem with prescription drug abuse, heroin addiction and drug overdose deaths have never been worse, and unless we take some important steps, which we are optimistic that this group will attempt and succeed at doing, this problem is going to get worse. So, doing nothing is not acceptable,” Capretto said.

The group has already had their first meeting where they created three sub-committees to focus on Community Outreach/Education, Treatment and Quality, Safety and Outcomes.

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“We are trying to identify the areas of need. We are going to focus on improving things like access to treatment, more collaboration, more communication from the medical side in emergency rooms, treatment programs. We are going to look at education of communities; we would like to see better education of physicians, and pharmacists,” Capretto tells KDKA.

And, according to him, that is just the beginning. They have a long road ahead of them.

Hickton says that this epidemic is not just a problem here in Western Pennsylvania, but all over and that while the solution will take time starting the process can be simple.

“You would be surprised to know that many people who are struggling with it [addiction], simply don’t know what resources are out there, so that little step would be progress,” Hickton said.

You can hear the whole interview here:

You can also listen to the KDKA Afternoon News with Bill Rehkopf weekdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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