State health officials are reminding Pennsylvanians to remain vigiliant and help those battling addiction.

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

HARRISBURG (KDKA) – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, state health leaders fear Pennsylvanians may be forgetting another crisis – the opioid epidemic.

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“While the COVID-19 pandemic is occurring, many Pennsylvanians continue to struggle with the disease of addiction,” Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection and Opioid Command Center Incident Commander Ray Barishansky said. “We know that a public health pandemic at the same time as the opioid epidemic has made for a challenging year for many. It is up to all of us to come alongside those who are struggling with the disease of addiction and to offer them our support. Treatment works, and recovery is possible.”

Right now, many Pennsylvanians are continuing to struggle with addiction and leaders say the holidays can be a challenging time, leaving those who battle addiction at a greater risk of relapsing.

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“These are members of our community, they are vibrant people with so much to offer, but their lives were taken too soon,” Barishansky said. “I cannot emphasize too much that these people are affected by a disease. And that disease is a disease of addiction.”

State health leaders are now calling all Pennsylvanians to carry naloxone.

Naloxone is available at most pharmacies across the state year-round and it’s available for a low cost or no cost.

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More information on how to help those struggling with addiction can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s opioid response website.