At addiction summit, a call for action

By Laurie Mason Schroeder and Pamela Lehman Of The Morning Call

An army of concerned citizens determined to stem the opioid crisis that claimed more than 300 lives across the Lehigh Valley last year alone convened in Bethlehem Township Tuesday to seek solutions to the epidemic.

The Lehigh Valley Summit on Addiction and Recovery drew hundreds of professionals who heard from law enforcement, medical and community leaders.

The speakers shared a common theme: Treatment can work, and recovery is possible. But the stigma associated with addiction must be lifted.

“Many of us who would like to come out of the shadow of addiction simply cannot do so for fear of losing our jobs,” said Jason Snyder, a special assistant at Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services.

Snyder was among several guests who shared personal stories about overcoming addiction. He said he’s been in recovery for opioid addiction for more than a decade, a journey he started after his two brothers succumbed to drug overdoses.

Representatives from Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network discussed new programs to help people get into treatment quickly. And Kristen Wenrich, director of the Bethlehem Health Bureau, talked about a partnership her department is entering with local law enforcement.

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