He compared the number to the Vietnam War, where 58,000 soldiers died over the course of roughly a dozen years.
Mann was among the local and state leaders who gathered Thursday at Laughlin Memorial Library for a conversation in response to the ongoing heroin epidemic gripping communities nationwide.
The panel also included Ambridge Officer Jason Seng, State Rep. Rob Matzie, Nicole Kurash of Gateway Rehabilitation, Lt. Dave Zeranick of Harmony Township Fire QRS Department EMT, and Ambridge Pastor Rick Thornhill.
Thornhill, who runs Solomon’s Porch, a transitional home in Ambridge, said it’s important to understand that recovery is a process and going to rehab isn’t a cure.
“It’s just sort of the beginning of the journey,” said Thornhill, who is recovering. “Addiction really is something that deals with the mind, the body and the spirit, and for recovery to be complete, a recovery program…that needs to cover all those bases for somebody to truly recover.”
Matzie said the state has called for a special session this fall on the disease. Legislators also rolled out a prescription drug monitoring program, which went into effect on Thursday. Doctors and pharmacists will be able to determine how many drugs were prescribed to patients under the policy.
Matzie said he was disheartened to see comments on social media asking why Narcan is used on a person more than once. He said as a community, it’s important for everyone to stand up for each other.
“I was raised that all lives are precious and we have to stand up as a community and protect all lives,” he said.
Kurash said anyone who loves an addict knows it’s hard, but the most important thing is for family members to hold addicts accountable and don’t enable them. She said for drug addicts, if there are no consequences, there are no reasons to quit.
“If you have them in your house and you know that they’re using, and you let them continue to use, or they say ‘I need money or I’m going to get sick’ and so you give them money, or I’ve met parents that go and actually buy the drugs for them. If you do any of that behavior, you’re not helping the situation.”
Zeranick said sometimes people come to an EMT because they feel more comfortable talking to them, than going to the police. He’s talked to people on the phone and received texts about dealers or other information. He will refer them to authorities he said they can trust.
Mann said one woman has overdosed four times. This last time, she needed eight doses of Narcan to bring her back. He said someone who did 40 bags a day two or three years ago can do a half a bag now and end up dead.
According to Mann, in 2015 there were eight overdoses in Ambridge and one death. In 2016 forty overdoses and five death.
“This drug that they’re using now is 1,000 times more powerful than fetanyl...so this is the kind of stuff that they’re putting in these drugs,” he said.
At times the police are at the scene of an overdose first and they are there waiting for the medics . Mann shared that " we are there waiting for 10 to 15 minutes, seconds count when these people overdose"
"The federal government they need to step in," he said. "They need to get the narcan out to the police and get the police trained ."
See below for raw footage of the panel discussion and upcoming events.
September 9 Information for help in the Park from 4 to 6 pm contact Jenn Montellanico if want to be involved. Gateway rehab and other organizations will be on hand to hand out information.
September 9 Prayer walk 5:30 meet in PJ Caul Park to pray at 6:15 contact First Missionary Baptist Church (724) 674-1133
September 13 Faith- Based Solution for Addiction at 7 p.m. New Hope Community Church
October 8 Second Event : Community Flea Market and Gospel / Worship in Park expect preaching and music for all sins not just drug issues Hosted by New Life Assembly of God
Other Local Events :
Wednesday, August 31 Overdose Awareness Vigil Courthouse Square Westmoreland Count Courthouse 6 to 8 p.m. Includes Narcan Trainings and a Candlelight Vigil hosted by Not One More
Saturday, September 10 one-day recovery mini conference to be held at the Life Center in New Brighton. For those in recovery as well as family, friends and helpers, let's encourage each other in recovery, with a spiritual emphasis, to be a part of the solution against the addiction epidemic in Beaver County. With S.T.A.R.S. (Suggestions & Testimonies About Recovery with Spirituality), we can see glimmers of hope and peace replace the destruction and anxiety caused by addictions that hurt individuals, families and communities. There will be no childcare available, but there will be lunch provided free for those who RSVP by September 7th. (724)777-6137
Thursday, September 19, 20, 21
Heroin Epidemic Beaver County
Ending the Silence
Sponsored by Knight of Columbus BV Council 604
Located at Saints Monica Parish