Penn State Harrisburg awarded funds to help fight heroin abuse in Dauphin County

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Penn State Harrisburg has been awarded $77,250 from the Dauphin County Commissioners to develop a website that would provide streamlined information on heroin and opiate prevention and treatment services in Dauphin County. The project, in partnership with Dauphin County Drug & Alcohol Services, will make it easier for those seeking information by narrowing and organizing a multitude of local resources into an easy, convenient, user-friendly format.

The project will be headed by Weston Kensinger, lecturer in health education. Judith Witmer, assistant professor of education, will lead a future aspect of the project, developing community and school-based heroin and opiate prevention programming.

“With this website, we are hoping to address the stigma of addiction and build awareness of this issue affecting so many families, not just here in Dauphin County, but all over the country,” said Kensinger.  “Utilizing the academic expertise and resources at Penn State Harrisburg and the leadership of Dauphin County Drug & Alcohol Services, it is our hope to provide the most detailed and efficient information to get individuals the help they need and ultimately reduce deaths.

“I am extremely thankful to the Dauphin County Commissioners for recognizing the importance of supporting this effort, and helping to bring together professionals throughout the county to streamline this lifesaving information.”

Heroin addiction has risen in Pennsylvania and has become a serious public health crisis. Since 2000, there has been a 162 percent statewide increase in heroin overdose hospitalizations and 225 percent increase in opiate overdoses. In Pennsylvania’s South Central Region, where Dauphin County is situated, the increases are 305 percent and 442 percent for heroin and opiate overdose hospitalizations.

“The sooner we can connect people in need with the resources available, the sooner we can begin to reduce the life and monetary cost of this epidemic,” Kensinger said.  “This funding serves as a catalyst for a larger project that we are actively pursuing to provide even more education and resources to combat this problem.”

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Last Updated March 08, 2016