PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Wolf will be in Moon Township Thursday to talk about new funding to fight opioid abuse.
Meantime, lawmakers are traveling the state to learn more about the epidemic.
Both heroin and prescription drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl are being blamed for part of a record number of overdose deaths last year in Pennsylvania.
So both Republican and Democratic members of the State House are traveling the state holding hearings to learn more.
“This is my son, Sage,” said Carmen Capozzi, as he pointed to a picture of the son he lost to a heroin overdose at age 20.
Capozzi was one of the people who attended a hearing in Youngwood on Wednesday.
He says he thinks about his son all the time: “Every day. Every day of my life. Some days are harder than others.”
Capozzi started “Sage’s Army,” a group in Irwin to teach people about drug addiction and lobby for help.
He says it’s important that state legislators understand how big the drug epidemic is and that more money is available for treatment.
“We don’t have enough,” said Capozzi. “We don’t have enough help for the amount of the problem.”
Helena Uncapher is a recovering addict who testified at the hearing.
“I’m lucky to be alive today,” said Uncapher. “I’m lucky to be free and lucky to have the opportunity to raise my three children.”
She says she started with alcohol at age 10, marijuana at 11, and eventually wound up addicted to heroin.
“It’s very powerful,” said Uncapher. “It made me lie, cheat, steal. Everything I thought I wouldn’t do, I did do.”
For her, she believes getting arrested and going before a judge sent her on a path that’s made all the difference. She testified about how more money for drug court and related programs could help more addicts.
Another problem is that sometimes insurers will only pay for a few days of rehabilitation when months are needed.
The policy committee’s hearings will continue through September.